Food drive at Florence Rideout Elementary

WILTON – The line stretched from the side door of Florence Rideout Elementary School, down Prince Street and along Maple Street to the Sacred Heart Church. The 216 students from pre-kindergarten through grade five formed a “fire brigade” line and passed more than 1,000 donated items hand-to-hand to the Open Cupboard Food Pantry.

Monday started with rain but cleared off in time for the event.

“I think this was a great idea,” Principal Tim O’Connell said. “There were a couple of gaps in the line, the little kids, but it was just about the right distance and the right number of kids. And we really got lucky with the weather.”

The annual food collection is organized by the second grade teachers, usually as a “turkey trot,” a race-type event, but that was not possible because of the construction of the new school building.

“They came up with the fire brigade,” O’Connell said.”It’s nice for (the students) to see where the food goes.”

Molly Moore’s fifth grade class collected the most items, and they were among those at the head of the line, passing the bags of food to Food Pantry volunteers.

“None of them had done anything like this before,” she said. “And we’re going into our Colonial America unit and we’ll discuss fire brigades,” Moore said.

“I think it worked very well once they got into the rhythm,” she added,

This year’s 1119 items “broke the record (for number of items) set years ago by a sixth grade,” O’Connell said. Items included diapers and personal care products as well as a wide assortment of non-perishable food.

Organizers of the event included second grade teachers Heather Desmarais and Kristen Hebert, reading specialist Tamara Cargill, and nurse Diane Zoltko.