For Principal Alysson Keelen the number four is a very big deal. Not only is it her lucky number but she also celebrated her 44th birthday.
Now Keelen is looking to make that number lucky for the Howell Food Pantry. The Adelphia community is working to collect 4,444 cans to help restock the shelves and help township residents in need. The event is being called the "Can Can Camp Out"
If they reach that goal the school's teachers and some members of the district's administration have volunteered to camp out on the school's lawn on the evening of June 8 while the cans are sorted and donated to the pantry.
Keelen said she got the idea during another community service day when Mayor Robert Walsh came to visit on Arbor Day. At that time Walsh mentioned that the food pantry needed help and soon after she got an email from Superintendent Enid Golden about the possibility of a food drive.
What impressed Keelen the most was how quickly her students got behind helping other people in the community. "I told them about the food pantry needing food and the children gasped," she said. "They were excited to help."
The cans will be collected until June 1 by the students and while the goal is more than 4000 cans Keelen said she would like to see that number approach 10 thousand by the time the camping kicks off in a little more than two weeks.
Not only will the teachers and administrators be camping out but Keelen said she hopes the community will come together to collect, separate and donate the items to the pantry.
Having a food drive is not a new idea in the schools but Keelen said she wanted this one to be on a bigger scale. "I had a couple of teachers think about it and I said I want this to be big," she said. Ideas like extra recess and rewards for the winning grade came up but that was not enough. "One teacher said you want a unicorn to appear," and that was what she was hoping for.
It was secretary Mannii Crisafulli who she said came up with the camping idea. "All of them jumped on it and threw their whole heart and soul into it," she said. "The parents and kids have just been amazing and it has just been an unbelievable experience." Keelen said they have also gotten support from schools across the district to help them reach their goal.
To help track their success the school set up a website. On the page visitors can see what items the classes are collected and also see not only how many cans have been collected but also which classes have brought in the most. By 4:20 on Tuesday afternoon more than 3700 cans had been collected with more than a week to go in the drive.
The website also features a song performed by Stacey DiMarco's fifth grade class which was inspired by the school's efforts.