As winter break nears, Jefferson Elementary School students are getting an early Christmas present from the Ardmore Rotary Club.
The club worked with the school to buy and bag up food for all 264 students to take home during the winter break. For students and families facing food insecurity, winter break can be a long two weeks.
“This was to kind of help out the parents and give the kids extra food over the break, so we’re very appreciative of the Rotary Club for doing that,” Jefferson principal Myeisha Antwine said.
The food bags are an extension of a gift drive the Rotary Club holds every year, providing Jefferson students with items like socks and winter clothes along with toys. Ardmore Rotary President Deanna Evans said they wanted to address this need as well this year.
“Originally, it started about eight years ago when a former teacher came to Rotary asking us to help make sure all of the kids got Christmas presents, and it’s just built from there,” Evans said. “We’ve had a lot of organizations in the community come together to start helping with that, so we wanted to see if there was another need, and the bags were the greatest need.”
The club used money from their Oktoberfest fundraiser to buy food in bulk, emptying shelves in a local grocery store. The local Aldi store donated bags for the students.
“We bombarded them,” Evans said. “We cleaned the shelves. It was really a lot of fun. A lot of people would see us walking with huge bags and ask ‘are you couponing?’”
Kids received the bags, which contain family-sized bags of cereal, macaroni and cheese, vienna sausages, pasta, ramen, oatmeal, bottled water and other nonperishable items, this week, along with the presents.  
“We wanted to get nonperishable foods and things older siblings can prepare,” Antwine said.
The school also hopes to start a food pantry after they return from winter break. Antwine said the school has started accepting donations of nonperishable foods for the pantry.