CLEVELAND -- For more than seven decades, the students and staff at Saint Ignatius High School has stayed committed to helping their neighbors in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.
A holiday service project that once served just a handful of people now helps hundreds of families.
A different kind of food line could be seen moving through the cafeteria at St. Ignatius High School on Friday. Like on an assembly line, students went from each food station, filling up baskets.
"It's kind of amazing and it really shows just how much, you know, one donation can grow into so many,” St. Ignatius senior Jeff Foerg said.
This is the 77th year for what is now called the Rini Family Christmas Food Drive. It started back in 1937 with just four baskets. Now, they collect enough food to feed 700 families.
“So, here we are, seniors in high school and other grade levels, giving back possibly to kids our own age or to those who just can't afford to buy food for Christmas,” St. Ignatius senior Deshaun Adair added.
Students and staff collected more than 6,000 food items and more than $6,500 in donations for the giant food basket giveaway.
"One top of their contributions, Giant Eagle donates about $2,800 worth of food and then Dairyman's and Zurich Family Foundation provides 700 gallons of milk,” Food Drive Coordinator Marty Dybicz said.
Each basket contains 25 different food items and it is hoped that will be enough to feed a family for a week.
"It’s really kind of cool to think that each of these baskets is going to a different special person and we're able to make their holiday season a little bit happier," Foerg added.
St. Ignatius works with several social service agencies to identify needy families in the Ohio City Neighborhood. Saturday is seen as one of the greatest days of the year at the school. That’s when all 700 baskets will be delivered.
Adair said it makes the students feel that they are accomplishing what God has called them to do at St. Ignatius.
“We hope that the people appreciate it and that they are happy that somebody cares enough to do this for them," he added.
In addition to all the non-perishable food items, each basket includes a frozen turkey and a gallon of milk.