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Wenonah Hosts 'Stuff-a-Tent' Food Drive

School holds annual drive to benefit Island Harvest.

For the fourth consecutive year, continued its annual tradition of holding a food drive to benefit Island Harvest, the largest hunger relief organization on Long Island, with a portion of the donated items also going to the Sachem Food Pantry located in .

The charitable drive held on Saturday, "Stuff-a-Tent", formerly called "", elicited a large turnout of residents, students and teachers helping to collect non-perishables for families in need during these tough economic times, when those who were in a position to give just a few years ago may now themselves require assistance.  Over 20 large boxes were filled with food and paper items.

Wenonah fifth graders and several local Girl Scout troops came early to help decorate.

The Fifth Grade Committee had a car wash, and the PTA held a bake sale at the same time, to help raise money for the fifth grade class trip to Manhattan.

"We figured it would be a good thing to do, since everyone would be dropping off food.  We've had a steady flow since 10 a.m.," said Cherie Castellano, the fifth grade coordinator.

Rebecca Ryan, a social worker at Wenonah, was the event coordinator for the drive. 

"It's all about paying it forward," she said.

Wenonah Principal Christine DiPaola was elated with the show of support from residents who took time out of their busy schedules to lend a hand. 

"With so many demands on people, it's unbelievable, the generosity of the Wenonah Community," she said. "We're trying to do more things related to citizenship."

is in line with one of the main tenets that the faculty at the school strives to impart.

"We try to teach students that they're a part of a community, and our school community is part of a larger community," said DiPaola. "They're constantly aware that they're part of something greater."

Since most organizations don't think to do a food drive in the spring, it is a time when donations are needed more than ever.

"The holidays come and go.  It's a good time to stock up for the summer.  Then we're back again for our drives in the fall," Ryan said.  "The food banks on Long Island are dangerously low, so every bit counts."

Mary Story, the parent of a first grader at Wenonah, came to drop off food, and then decided to stay to have her car washed. 

Story said, "I came to support the community and the children.  I think [children] have to learn to take care of each other, and the people around them, and realize how fortunate they are."

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