Parked outside Key Food supermarket in Kings Park Saturday morning, a giant yellow school bus adorned a sign that read “Stuff-A-Bus Help Feed Kings Park Families In Need.”
The 25th annual food drive, sponsored by the King Park High School’s varsity club, had to collect enough food to feed 90 local families this year -- a larger number than in previous years.
“I think it has to do with Hurricane Sandy and the economy,” said Judy Bishop, executive assistant to the superintendent and creator of the Stuff-A-Bus event. “Families are having a tough time.”
Students collected donations and piled them into the bus.
Steven Giaca, 17, a senior at Kings Park High School, thanked a passerby as she handed him a shopping bag filled with goods.
“We’re here to collect food for the less fortunate,” said Giaca, the president of the high school’s honors society. “I’ve done it every year.”
As Giaca and classmates worked through the cold fall morning, Kevin Denis, owner of the nearby Professors Diner, kept them warm by giving them free hot chocolate.
“It’s a great thing they do for the community,” said the 59-year-old business owner. “They do a good deed, we do a good deed. People like this make the world a better place.”
Local Cub Scout Pack 75 added its 371-pound donation of food they collected last week.
From the Key Food parking lot, the food was brought to the gymnasium to be sorted.
Kim McGinley, a physical education teacher at the high school, organized students in the Kings Park High School gym to sort and box the items collected.
“We’re teaching the kids a lot about community service and giving back,” said McGinley, 57, of Smithtown. “We’re teaching an understanding that some people don’t even have a hot meal.”
Tables marked for soups overflowed with Campbell’s and Progresso cans and a mountain of Little Bites cupcakes were stacked atop the snack table.
Boxes were marked with family descriptions and given to students to fill accordingly. The families that receive these donations are kept confidential.
Volunteers placed donations into boxes marked with the number of people in each family. The boxes will be picked up on Monday and Tuesday by the families from four of the schools in the district. Extra goods are kept in the high school’s pantry for emergency situations in the community.
“We take in so many families that need help,” McGinley said. “The giving goes year round.”