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Schools reaching out to needy, collecting food

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While many Catholic schools hold food drives for pantries and shelters before Thanksgiving, some are making donations now to help the needy at food pantries and shelters.

Football games have become food collection centers at some schools, while others are asking students and teachers to bring canned goods from home.

"We are aware that our gifts are not to be kept only for ourselves," said Dave Peters, head of school at Mount Michael Benedictine High School near Elkhorn. "God has granted us so many blessings that we know the need to share them with others."

"It's been a huge help for us. With their generosity, it means we can do a lot more for families in need," said John Levy, executive director of the Heart Ministry Center at Sacred Heart Parish in Omaha, which has a food pantry. "With the current economy, we're seeing a lot more people who have never needed help before, so with these canned foods and other items being donated, we can really give people a nice selection of things."

Schools planning food drives in November include Columbus Catholic schools, Hartington Catholic schools, Humphrey Catholic schools, Norfolk Catholic schools, Roncalli Catholic High School in Omaha, St. Mary School in O'Neill and Guardian Angel Central Catholic School in West Point.

Some of the September and October collection drives:

• Daniel J. Gross Catholic High School in Bellevue collected 250 canned food items before the Oct. 5 homecoming football game against Ralston.

• Mount Michael will conduct its first full-fledged canned food drive Oct. 22-26. The food will go to the Omaha Reservation in Walthill, as well as low-income Hispanic families. Conducted as a competition between grade levels, the winning class will receive a free dress day.

• As admission to the Oct. 7 "Powder Puff" football game between Norfolk Catholic's junior and senior girls, the school collected canned food items. With help from students at Sacred Heart School in Norfolk, the junior/senior high school filled a pickup truck with food for the local Salvation Army.

• Students at St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha collected personal care items for the Heart Ministry Center at Sacred Heart Parish Oct. 15-19. The shelter drive was done in honor of the Oct. 17 feast day of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the school's patron saint.

• St. Patrick School in Elkhorn also collected canned food items for the Heart Ministry Center during an Oct. 1-15 drive.

• Last month, students at St. Vincent de Paul School in Omaha joined the parish outreach committee and collected toothbrushes, toothpaste and travel-size shampoo for the Women's Shelter, Holy Family Outreach, Heart Ministry Center and Siena/Francis House, all in Omaha.

• Students at V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha collected about 100 pounds of food items Oct. 3 for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry as part of the school's annual Community Involvement Day.

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