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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 6, 2011

Pine Bush Elementary recognized for helping the hungry

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — The Pine Bush Elementary School is involved in so many projects to help people in need that the principal didn’t know which the school was receiving national recognition for.

“We had efforts all year long by many members of our community,” said Principal Christopher Sanita, adding, “It’s nice to be recognized.”

The Schools Fight Hunger program has named Pine Bush Elementary a National School of Distinction, one of fewer than 2,000 schools nationwide to earn the accolade for the 2010-11 school year.

The National School of Distinction status is awarded to schools that demonstrate notable enthusiasm, creativity, or dedication in getting involved with the hunger cause, according to a release from Schools Fight Hunger.

Its website — www.schoolsfighthunger.org — highlights a project by the Pine Bush Parent-Teacher Association and the school’s student council, which collected 448 pounds of food to help the hungry. The March drive, affiliated with flowers growing in the spring, was called “Our Community Grows with Giving.” The site also highlights a Movie Night in January where anyone who brought a food item to donate received free popcorn.

Sanita listed a half-dozen other projects at Pine Bush last year that also helped those in need.

“We’ve done a lot,” he said.

In addition to the PTA and student council, other projects were initiated by the teaching assistants, the Guilderland Teachers’ Association, and even individual students, he said.

Some students and parents volunteered to serve Thanksgiving dinner at Equinox. The school was involved in a toy drive and adopt-a-family program for the holidays. Some also participated in holiday bell-ringing or in the adopt-an-angel program.

Emily Lynch, now a sixth-grader at Farnsworth Middle School, launched Hannah’s Hot Chocolate campaign to raise funds for a child with cancer, modeled on another campaign the school had hosted, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, to raise funds for childhood cancer research.

Pine Bush was also involved in a Halloween fun fair for UNICEF (originally, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, now known as the United Nation’s Children’s Fund). And, Sanita said, for the annual GTA food drive, Pine Bush was awarded a union-sponsored trophy for two of the past three years.

Additionally, teaching assistants have collected toiletries and other goods to send to troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It’s really less about philanthropy,” said Sanita. “We’re very fortunate to be part of a good school district, and people here are looking at ways to give back to the community and do for those who are less fortunate. It’s something we can aspire to.”

“The students, staff, and families of our School of Distinction schools should be very proud of their efforts and the impact they’re making on the hunger cause,” said Tim Sullivan, who founded Schools Fight Hunger two years ago, in a statement. “Of course, the short-term results are impressive, but we also love to see how our next generation of leaders are getting active in their communities at such a young age.”

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