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Students, Rotarians fill baskets for needy families



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STUDENTS AND COMMUNITY volunteers gathered Dec. 22 to fill food boxes for families in need. Sponsored by the Walworth Fontana Rotary Club, boxes were filled at Walworth and Sharon elementary schools for more than 200 families.

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December 24, 2012 | 01:31 PM
WALWORTH — The elementary school cafeteria was packed with student and adult volunteers on Saturday morning.

Students were bringing boxes of food in from a delivery truck and organizing the food in assembly line rows across lunch tables.

It was chaos with people running in all directions, but there was a cheerful, stress-free air to the whole place. The volunteers were all smiling.

Familiar faces were organizing the lines. Pam Knorr, district administrator, tried to pull students away from the hot cocoa and doughnuts, while Kelly Freeman, school board president, worked the assembly line to fill boxes with food.

Several teachers and administrative staff volunteered, along with one Walworth village trustee.

Freeman said the process is more organized when it's held on a school day.

"It's a little different when school is on because it's better organized," she said. "It starts right at 8:30 a.m. and there are more students there to help. Because of the snow and being on a Saturday morning, everything was different."

This year, a snow storm caused school cancellations and the box-filling production was delayed until Saturday morning.

There may have been more student help on a Friday during school hours, but enough showed up on their first Saturday of winter vacation to make the process work.

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The Walworth-Fontana Rotary Club solicits monetary donations during November, and typically the Friday before Christmas, the boxes are filled at the school and delivered to families in need.

Eighth-grade students can sign up to help, and Freeman said students are the majority of volunteers.

"There are usually more (students) when it's during a school day," she said. "They have to sign up if they want to be there to help. I was surprised with how many students would be there for a Saturday with vacation starting a day early."

Operating at the same time, volunteers at the Sharon Elementary School filled boxes as well.

A total of 259 boxes were filled with pancake mix, syrup, cans of vegetables and fruit, macaroni and cheese, ground beef, pasta, cereal and other items.

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"I was going to say (I've been helping) at least 15 years," Freeman said. "That's absolutely a guess. (My husband) Richard was a Rotarian, and I just helped out."

Freeman wasn't the only "non-Rotarian" to volunteer.

"There were people just showing up," she said. "They always come every year just to help. It's really a wonderful thing."

After the boxes were filled and taped shut, volunteers helped deliver them to area residents.

"All the baskets were delivered," Freeman said. "I think Mark Dade was filling the last truck. Todd Watters (village trustee) was helping him."

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