Whittier Tech Students Pool Talents and Collect Nearly 7,000 Food Items for Pantries

Members of Whittier Tech’s Skills USA group led the School’s annual food drive, setting a record for items collected. From left, Isasis George, Ashlyn Sullivan, Kate Velasquez, Lauren Jiolo, Marisa Behl, Madison Gosse, Myles Rochon, Brogan Arivella, and Jaidyn Craig. (Courtesy photograph.)

Students at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School collected a record-breaking amount of food—6,973 canned goods and non-perishable items in total—during this year’s collection.

Superintendent Maureen Lynch said Whittier Tech’s Skills USA chapter spearheaded the drive, pooling talents of students in various programs. They increased their efforts after learning food insecurity increased in Massachusetts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Skills USA members began planning the drive with advisors Jane Moskevitz, Bruce Boiselle, and Jonathan Warne in September. Chapter President Jaidyn Craig, a junior in Medical Assisting from Haverhill, used morning announcements to share facts about food insecurity with fellow students. Maddy Dawkins, a CAD junior from Haverhill, became the student organizer, collecting student donations and shopping for additional food items.

Design and Visual Communications students led by teacher Cate Cashman designed and created the posters placed in every classroom and hallway, with the support of CAD Drafting.

This led to a mini-competition with students in the technology wing. Under the guidance of teacher Bob Beaton, students in Engineering, Electronics/Robotics and CAD created window displays. CAD teachers Scott Robertson and Tristan Belanger introduced the canned food drive to create a sense of pride for the shop.

The Health Assisting team joined in, with teacher Kimberly Malynn creating a tower display of ramen.

CAD students collected 1,890 cans and non-perishable items, averaging 36 items per student. Health Assisting students collected 1,192 items, while Engineering students collected 1,165.

Freshman students in Teri Bragg’s Homeroom 3011 also stepped up to contribute. “I want to make my four years memorable here and help change the world with our experiences and voices,” said Sam Kesten, a freshman from Haverhill.

Items will be donated to food pantries in Whittier Tech’s 11 sending communities.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the Whittier community raising three times the amount of canned goods typical for our school drive,” Craig said.

Lynch said. “This is an excellent example of how they can support their community in ways beyond the trade skills they develop.”

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