Mark Twain Elementary students collect 6,100 food items for Hannibal Salvation Army


Kinzie Hirtzel, fifth grader at Mark Twain Elementary, hands Matt Schmidt, development director at Salvation Army, a box of cans. | Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. — A Salvation Army truck pulled up in front of Mark Twain Elementary School Monday morning to collect 6,120 food items collected by students. 

Leigh Ann Ford, Title I reading teacher, said the school worked together to meet goals for the food drive.

The effort was led by the Student Lighthouse Team, which made signs and hung them around the school, created a video to show in the morning assembly and daily charted classroom progress for a competition. The team of fifth graders got students and staff excited about helping others.

When their initial goal of 4,000 was met, principal Tomi Lowes jumped into a lake at the Lake of the Ozarks. Students also voted for a pie-in-the-face competition by placing cans beside pictures of teachers and staff at the school.

Lowes and two other teachers were “pied” in the face on Monday afternoon

The members of the Student Lighthouse Team not only worked to get the cans collected but also spent a portion of their school day helping load the Salvation Army truck, then unloading the truck at the Salvation Army’s Hannibal location.

The food drive has become an annual tradition for at least 10 years at Mark Twain Elementary, and their numbers have continued to grow. Starting with a little more than 1,000 cans, the past two years have produced more than 6,000 food items.

“The partnership with the Salvation Army has been a wonderful opportunity, because everything stays local and we are able to share with them that the things they are bringing in really help the community,” Lowes said. 

Fifth-grader Kinzie Hirtzel brought 24 cans to the food drive. This year, as a Student Lighthouse Member, she was on the forefront of the drive.

“I have learned that helping people, especially with important things like food, feels really good,” Kinzie said. “Being a part of the Student Lighthouse Team has really given me the role of helping others.”

Chad Douglas, donor relations coordinator at Salvation Army, said the donation will go into Hannibal’s food pantry and be made available to Hannibal and the surrounding communities.

“This is such a huge help to the Salvation Army. They have donated more than 6,100 items and that food will go out directly to the folks here in Hannibal in the surrounding areas.” 

Douglas said the pick-up day for the Mark Twain Elementary food drive is one of his favorite days of the year. 

“I just love it because the kids are so much a part of it. They collect it, they load it up and then they unload it at our families or at the food pantry, so they get so much out of it as well,” he said. “It’s just a good thing all around that these kiddos are doing.”

Members of the Student Lighthouse Team

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