Leadership studentsJennifer Galvan, front left, Aislyn Alonso Flores, and Wendelynn Blevins, with Jalen Widman and Jeni Pineda in back, carry and stack food collected from classrooms.In a schoolwide food drive, students at Jefferson County Middle School collected and turned over 1,720 pounds of canned and dried foods to the Jefferson County Food Bank last Friday.

Organized by students in Lindsay Painter’s leadership classes, the food drive offered a cocoa and popcorn party to the classroom collecting the most food items.

“That first week, almost nothing was turned in,” Painter admitted.

Then her eighth-grade students mentioned that Zachary Lillebo’s room always got a huge collection of canned food each year, and suggested classes try to beat him.

“As an incentive, we said that the classroom beating Mr. Lillebo’s would get to throw pies in his face,” Painter said, adding she cleared it with him first.

She said that made the competition more fun and a lot more food donations started rolling in.

Unfortunately, Lillebo’s class still won -- by two cans of food. “So, his class will get to throw the pies,” Painter said.

Two eighth-grade leadership students talked about the experience.

“I think the food drive is a good idea. We’re helping people in our community and it was really fun,” said Margarita Castellanos.

Jennifer Pineda noted, “The food bank was running out, so we are helping out. It was really fun because when people need something and don’t have the money to get it, we give them hope that they can get something for the holidays.”

On Nov. 22, leadership students from sixth- through eighth-grades went through the hallways collecting all the boxes of donations and stacking them by a doorway for pickup.

As soon as the food boxes were stacked, the students went right to work on their next project – making donation boxes for a toy drive for Operation Rudolph, which will run from Dec. 3-13 at JCMS.

Jefferson County Food Bank Director Paul Rueter restocks shelves with some of the donations.A one-man crew of Paul Rueter arrived to haul the collection away and then unload it. Rueter, who is the director of the Jefferson County Food Bank, said they get an average of 65 families a week seeking food boxes.

“We had over 80 families last week. There are more people who qualify now, but we’re getting less food from the Oregon Food Bank,” Rueter said.

Central Oregon agencies receive supplemental foods from the Oregon Food Bank in Portland, for which they just pay the freight. When that runs out, the agencies depend on local food donations.

“The mail carriers' food drive in May carries us through the summer, but we could use another drive in September. It would be nice to have year-round donations,” Rueter said.

This week, for instance, the local food bank had boxes of pasta, but only six cans left of tomato sauce to go with the pasta.


The Jefferson County Food Bank accepts food donations Mondays from 9:30-10:30 a.m., and Tuesdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m., at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 556 S.E. Seventh St., Madras. Monetary contributions may be sent to Paul Rueter, 8961 N.E. Old Highway 97, Madras, OR 97741 (make checks payable to: Jefferson County Food Bank). Rueter may be contacted at 541-419-0590.

Food is distributed to those in need from 1:30-5 p.m., on Tuesdays, at the food bank, located in the house next to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Types of food needed includes: canned meats, pasta, rice, oatmeal, canned vegetables, meals in a can (chili, stew, ravioli, etc.), tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, spices and condiments, dog and cat food, shampoos and soaps, and personal care products (toilet paper, detergent, paper towels).

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