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Newton schools collect 21,000 food items for county's pantries
Mansfield Elementary produces a fifth of total collection
Mansfield students pose with some of the 4,100 food items they collected for the annual NCSS Can-a-Thon. (Special | Newton County School System)

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County School System (NCSS) staff and students brought in more than 21,000 items of food for its recent collection effort and a Covington church was a major contributor to its successful delivery to local food pantries.

The NCSS Can-A-Thon produced 21,472 food items for the community in the friendly competition among schools for collection of the most items.

This year, Mansfield Elementary School earned bragging rights by collecting 4,219 cans, followed by the Newton County Board of Education Central Office employees who collected 4,152 items. 

Rocky Plains Elementary School brought 2,185 canned goods in for local families, followed by Oak Hill Elementary School with 1,916 items of food. 

Officials noted that all food items collected in the NCSS Can-A-Thon remain in Newton County to support local families.

NCSS social worker George Hutchinson said the school district’s annual Can-A-Thon is extremely important to the Newton County community.

“This is one of the largest, if not the largest, food drives in Newton County and our local food pantries have come to depend on us for this food drive to restock their pantries for the upcoming holiday season and winter season,” Hutchinson said. 

“Particularly right now with our economy being so impacted by the pandemic, a lot of people are hurting and in need. This goes a long way for these food pantries to provide for their needs.”

As the number of cans collected continued to grow, Newton County School System had to reach out for assistance with pickup and delivery of the canned food items this year. When the call went out for assistance, New Life Praise Center quickly stepped up to the plate.

The leadership team at New Life — a NCSS Partner in Education — immediately began coordinating a delivery plan. 

Within a week, all 21,472 items from the participating schools had been delivered to three local food organizations: The Salvation Army Food Pantry, the Newton Community Food Pantry and the Covington First United Methodist Church Food Pantry. 

Some schools had so many items that multiple trips were needed to complete the delivery. The team of volunteers from New Life were very glad to be part of this great work.

“I can't say enough about the incredible efforts of Pastor Justin Adams and New Life Praise Center,” Hutchinson said. “Their army of volunteers, under the leadership of Mr. Artie Brunson, facilitated the pickup and delivery of all of our items from 19 locations and delivered them to the three food pantries in a little over a week, assisted by volunteers at each school who helped load the items. This accomplishment deserves special recognition!”

Pastor Justin Adams is no stranger to serving this community. As the NCSS 2018 Partner of the Year, New Life Praise Center and Adams dedicate time and resources to seven NCSS schools through partnerships and support.

“Investing in our local schools and community continues to be a big part of our work through these 12 years as a local church,” Adams said. “Everyone is welcome at New Life Praise Center, and we view our community as an extension of our church family. 

"We were very proud to help NCSS with the Can-a-Thon this year, and we will continue to be ready to serve our community in so many great ways.”

Fairview Elementary School students help Richard Long of New Life Praise Center load boxes filled with food collected at Fairview for the annual Can-a-Thon drive. (Special | Newton County School System)