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Sauvie Island fifth-graders tour the facilities, help out at food bank

Field trip earned through January food drive

MARK MILLER - Ella Beebe (center) reaches for a box as her fifth-grade class from Sauvie Island Academy packs up canned food for distribution at the Columbia Pacific Food Bank on Friday, March 6.The competition was fierce, but in the end, it was Stacey Perry’s fifth-grade class at Sauvie Island Academy that earned a special field trip — to the Columbia Pacific Food Bank in St. Helens.

In the food bank’s warehouse setting on Milton Way Friday, March 6, the students pitched in with gusto, filling boxes with canned and other nonperishable food.

Even when a break was called to give them an opportunity to rest and have a snack, many worked right on through.

Monique Oliver, one of the food bank’s full-time employees, said Friday was the first time she has had a school class come through for an organized visit.

“It’s wonderful to have that volunteer support,” she said, watching the students and parent volunteers at work.

“It’s a perfect context for them — for their energy,” said Perry, the teacher.

Oliver gave the visitors a tour of the food bank and the H.E.L.P. food pantry, with which it shares space, one small group at a time. Students learned about how the food bank supplies food to pantries throughout the county and got to peek inside its walk-in freezer and refrigerator.

The fifth-graders won the right to visit the food bank with their class by bringing in the most pounds of food during a drive in January, part of the charter school’s celebration of National School Choice Week.

The class donated 420 pounds of goods to the food bank.

Ella Beebe, one of the students, admitted that she had not donated to the food drive — she forgot, she explained — but she was clearly having fun contributing on Friday.

“I enjoyed packing the boxes,” she said.

Oliver said the food bank is available for class trips. Scouting troops have visited in the past as well, she added.

MARK MILLER - Fifth-graders from Sauvie Island Academy fill boxes with canned food items on a field trip to the Columbia Pacific Food Bank on Friday, March 6. The class won the field trip by donating the largest amount during a food drive at the charter school earlier this year.