St. Clare School first graders have their hands full stocking the parish’s St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry: Spencer Hilligoss, Maggie McLean, Gryphon Cipriano.
St. Clare School first graders have their hands full stocking the parish’s St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry: Spencer Hilligoss, Maggie McLean, Gryphon Cipriano.
The integration of school and service is fundamental to the culture and curriculum at St. Clare School in Southwest Portland.

First graders at St. Clare are leaders in the community when it comes to collecting food for the hungry and filling up the shelves at St. Clare Parish’s St. Vincent DePaul food pantry.

Every month during the school year, the parish counts on the first graders to advertise, count, collect and stack the pantry full with hundreds of cans of food for those in need.
It’s a monthly school-wide community service project in which the students take pride.  

Often, the first graders decide to add an extra collection when the needs are greater or in honor of something special. In the fall they planned and executed an extra collection in honor of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States.

The tie-in was a success as it generated three times the amount of food for the hungry.

Last spring, the students dedicated a drive to boost the morale and support their long-time first grade teaching assistant who was beginning her second round of chemotherapy. That drive too brought in a record number of donations.

Tina Erickson, first grade teacher, couldn’t be more proud of these go-getters.

“They are eager and willing to serve. Their enthusiasm is contagious,” she says. “When you are collecting that much food…organization and solid math skills are vital to the success of the drive.

“That’s why we integrate sorting, counting and stacking as part of the process. The food drive is the perfect vehicle to combine leadership, academics and service to others.”

The St. Clare food pantry school drives, led by a group of 6 year-olds, have brought in almost 5,000 cans of food for the hungry over the last year.