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    Food drive brings out pupils' can-do spirit

    Bauder Elementary hopes to collect 10,000 cans of food for the Salvation Army.

    [Times photo: Scott Keeler]
    Alan Conners, who brought in 300 cans, helps other fifth-graders sort canned goods Tuesday at Bauder Elementary School. Nearly 6,000 cans have been collected. Bauder is among the dozens of schools throughout Pinellas County that collect cans for the Salvation Army.

    By JULIANNE WU

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 13, 2000


    SEMINOLE -- The main hallway at Bauder Elementary School has been turned into the "Bear Village Cannery."

    It is the receptacle for nearly 6,000 cans and packaged goods collected by Bauder students for the Salvation Army -- along with a bunch of teddy bears.

    "For every 10 cans a child brings in, he or she can bring in a bear (to add to the display)," said assistant principal Patty Cox. "Of course, some of the older kids don't think it's very "macho' or grown-up to bring in bears."

    In the 12 years that Mrs. Cox has spearheaded Bauder's canned food drive, the students have always donated at least 5,000 cans a year, she said.

    One student, Alan Conners of Seminole, has brought in 300 cans so far this season. But he didn't bring in any bears. "I don't own any," said Alan, 10, a fifth-grader.

    Bauder is one of about 90 schools throughout Pinellas County that collect cans for the Salvation Army. More than 80 tons of food were collected last year.

    This is Alan's first year at Bauder. He and his parents, Rita and Andrew Conners, and their family moved to Florida from California about a year ago. Last year, Alan attended school in Pinellas Park.

    "I wanted to do this because there are a lot more people less fortunate than me," Alan said. "I did this before at other schools, but never brought so many cans."

    The Conners family took some cans from their own cupboard and purchased the rest, he said.

    For nearly a month now, students have been bringing in canned or packaged goods. Each weekday morning, Bauder student council members, including 10-year-olds Josh Howard and Julia Doninni of Seminole and Cydney Strickland of St. Petersburg, and other students help sort the food. On Friday, they will box up the cans and packaged food, so the Salvation Army can load them into a truck.

    Julia, the representative for Dawn Maschino's fifth-grade class, is proud of her classmate Alan, she said. She has brought in 10 cans, the same amount as many of her fellow student council members. And with Alan's contribution of 300 cans, Mrs. Maschino's class leads with more than 500 cans so far.

    "I think we should all care about the homeless." said Julia. "They need the food for dinners."

    Bauder's goal this year is 10,000 cans. "I don't know if we'll make that," said Mrs. Cox, "but we are nearing the 6,000 mark."

    Every year, Bauder has been recognized as one of the schools bringing in the most cans, said Mrs. Cox. This year, she added, about half of the 989 students have participated.

    "Each year, the Salvation Army depends on us a lot," said Mrs. Cox, "because they know we'll come through for them."

    In addition to the food drive, Bauder students are trimming their annual "sock tree" with pairs of new socks and conducting a toy drive, both for the Red Cross. The items will be distributed to needy people before Christmas.

    "I feel strongly these are ways for our school and families to give back to the community," said Mrs. Cox.

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