Students in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) club at William Byrd High School are sponsoring a “Soup 4 Seniors” drive with the goal of involving the school and the entire Vinton community in their project.
Family and Consumer Science (FACS) teacher Bev Allman is the advisor for the FCCLA at Byrd. She said students came up with the idea for the project. Their goal is to collect one pound of food for every person who passes through the doors at WBHS— 1,127 students, along with over 80 members of the faculty and staff. That’s approximately 1,200 pounds of canned goods.
They are asking for donations primarily of soup, but also high protein canned foods such as tuna and chicken, and jars of peanut butter, and even packets of oatmeal. (No glass containers, please.)
Their project is in association with the Local Office on Aging (LOA) Soup for Seniors campaign which takes place each year in February in the week after the NFL Super Bowl.
The kick-off for the program at William Byrd is on Monday, Jan. 23 and continues through Feb. 3.
Allman has been involved with the program in past years and says it is close to her heart, because she herself is a senior. Her FACS students have been busy planning activities and finding ways to publicize the event.
What they have envisioned is a competition that takes advantage of the Super Bowl theme. Once the NFC and AFC teams playing in the Super Bowl on February 5 are determined this weekend when the Green Bay Packers meet the Atlanta Falcons, and the New England Patriots play the Pittsburgh Steelers, students will bring in cans of food to be placed in separate boxes for separate teams— voting by donating for your favorite team or at least the one you favor to win the Super Bowl.
Canned food will be collected in the school office each day, but also during activities at the school.
FCCLA students will man the doors at double-header boys and girls basketball games on January 24 at WBHS against Staunton River High School. Staunton River will be invited to participate in the drive as well.
Students will also be collecting donations at the Big Orange Wrestling Tournament at Byrd on January 27 and 28, and possibly at another basketball game on February 3 against Alleghany High School.
Faculty members will be asked to bring cans of food to their next faculty meeting on January 25 as well.
However, in addition to asking for contributions from the William Byrd family, the FCCLA students are asking the Vinton community at large to contribute to the drive. Parents will be notified of the project via the school website and weekly emails; the drive will also be publicized on the WBHS digital sign at Bypass Road. Athletic Director Jason Taylor will be spreading the word to his athletes and their families.
Canned food may be left in the office at William Byrd. Students will be building towers of cans in the school library.
Allman said if individuals are unable to deliver their canned goods to the school, pick-up can be arranged by calling her at 890-3090.
The ultimate collection point where all the food will be collected, sorted, and dispersed throughout the 5th Planning District (which includes the Roanoke Valley and the Alleghany Highlands) is the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul just off Peters Creek Road at 4909 North Lakes Drive in Roanoke. The cans collected at William Byrd will be delivered there during the week of the official Soup for Seniors campaign.
Allman’s hope is that one result of the project is that “we get giving hearts.” She continually encourages her students to be “advocates for a cause.” She also hopes that getting the community involved with the school and the soup drive will help everyone “get on the same page” recognizing the real need that exists.
At Thanksgiving, these students collected menu items for a Thanksgiving meal for struggling families, packed into baskets, and even included a family game to play.
“Soup for Seniors” was established in 2006 to help remind the community that winter is an especially difficult time for seniors who often must choose between heat and food, or heat and medication. Soup for Seniors, in conjunction with the Meals on Wheels program sponsored by the LOA, helps seniors maintain their independence and remain in their homes.
This year’s local goal is to collect 50,000 food items to be delivered to 3,500 residents, keeping in mind that according to data collected, the senior population in Roanoke is above the state average.
The FCCLA is a national Career and Technical Student organization that provides personal growth, leadership development, and career preparation opportunities for students in Family and Consumer Sciences education. Allman has about 80 students in her classes, all of whom are members of the FCCLA.