When Kentucky State Police Public Affairs Officer Trooper Shane Jacobs met with groups of students in the Harlan County School District recently, he told them about the 2012 Cram the Cruiser campaign designed to collect food for the needy to be distributed through community organizations.
Jacobs admits he didn’t expect what he received from the six county schools that participated in Harlan County nor the substantial poundage collected in other Post 10 communities
The drive in his post area resulted in 21,471 pounds of food being collected, up from the total of 14,436 pounds collected in 2011 that won the Harlan post top honors in the event.
With the closest challenge coming from Post 1 in Mayfield with 11,350 pounds, Jacobs and his colleagues will retain the “Cram the Cruiser” Trophy for another year.
“I am tickled to death,” said Jacobs late Wednesday afternoon when he received official notification that the trophy is remaining here.
What makes the honor especially nice for Post 10 is that in 2010, the first year of the event, only 295 pounds of food was collected from Bell, Harlan and Knox counties.
This year, approximately 4,000 pounds of food were collected by students at Harlan County High School, Evarts, Wallins Cawood, Rosspoint and Black Mountain elementary schools.
Instead of Cramming the Cruiser, the day of collections resulted in students “Cramming the Van” as KSP Det. Kenny Abner and Trooper Jared Boggs went school to school picking up the food.
Harlan County students doubled what they collected last year.
This marks the second year that the Harlan County High School Gifted Leadership students participated. The students carried in case after case of various food items ranging from canned vegetables to boxes of Ramen Noodles and macaroni and cheese.
Karen Cox, who oversees the program at HCHS, said “This community project is one that we take great pride in because the food collected stays in our community to help feed needy families.”
Cox said she was proud of her students because they “put their hearts and souls into making this project a success, thus showing their leadership abilities and their desire to assist families less fortunate.”
Teacher Greg Lewis organized the event at Evarts Elementary School, setting a goal of at least 100 cans per homeroom and offering a few simple rewards for meeting the goal.
“We encouraged the kids leading up to the due date for the cans and simply let them know about the importance of being able to help those that need help at times,” said Lewis. “We have a great group of kids and I think this show of support for the Cram the Cruiser simply shows what great, caring kids and parents we get to work with at Evarts elementary.”
Lewis himself admitted to being surprised by the success at his school, noting that all grades kindergarten through eighth brought in food. The counting stopped with 1,070 cans, but that wasn’t the school total as items continued to roll in up until the minute the troopers and students were loading the van in front of the school.
Evarts second-grade student Matthew Lewis said, “Helping other people makes me feel good.”
And eighth-grader Ethan Aslinger added, “Being able to help the less fortunate makes me feel helpful. I am blessed to get everything I need so being able to help those in need of food really does feel good. They’re people out there that don’t have enough to eat, so I pray that the food gets to those families in need. This is the season to give and I am glad I helped. My only regret is that I don’t have more to give.”
Eighth-grader Natalie Middleton noted that “Being able to help the less fortunate during this season feels pretty great. I like the warmth it give me knowing families will have food during the holidays. By helping them they also help me realize how fortunate I am for the things I have. It just makes me feel happy know I have helped a family just by bringing in food.”
Also participating were the First Priority Leadership students at Rosspoint and the students and staff at Black Mountain, Rosspoint and Cawood.