Shepard Continues Lemon Tradition

Emily Durleta, Staff Reporter

The Lemon Food Drive started around the same time the school opened. It was named after Jerry Lemon, a health teacher at Shepard. Lemon was doing a unit on nutrition and asked students to bring in the label from canned foods.

To his surprise, students had brought in entire cans of food. After seeing the mass amounts of canned goods brought in, it was then decided they should start a food drive. More people began to participate and join. It became a way for the school to give back to its community and district.

Glenn Simms, former physical education  teacher, joined and later took over the food drive. Through the years more teachers have joined to carry on the food drive in memory to Jerry Lemon.

The Lemon Food Drive has since expanded and even partnered up with Jewel-Osco in Palos Heights. Jewel collects money and between the two contributions they purchase pre-cooked sides and turkeys for the families on Thanksgiving.

Families fortunate enough to receive help this Thanksgiving consist of families from previous years, and some  have been nominated by staff.
Many staff members have contributed to make the food drive happen throughout the years.

Guidance Counselor, Jim Benes, is responsible for transportation and drives the white bus for deliveries the day before Thanksgiving. Esther Roth, secretary, makes the calls to organize the food drive.

Kristine LaRocco and Erin Mclean both run the program and accompany students on the bus on the day of delivery.
Mclean explained, “In all reality we don’t do this to get any recognition. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Mclean has been participating and running the program for 13 years. Every year from the beginning of November down to the delivery date on November 25 it is a race to see how many donations we can gather to help out families within the district.

Teachers encourage students to donate anything from canned goods, paper products, and money for the food drive. Physical Educator, Mary Noren, allows students to donate items mentioned earlier along with toiletries, and money for an extra credit point per item.

The class with the highest amount donated is rewarded. Although students are rewarded for supporting the food drive with acts of kindness, Noren said,”Acts of kindness should be selfless. It’s about making a difference to better someone’s circumstances.”

Many other teachers at Shepard have followed the same idea. Foreign Language Educator, Juan Cruz, promotes the donation of money so the organizers of the food drive can purchase whatever they might not have received through donations.

Cruz provides a competition for his classes to see who can donate the most. The winning class is chosen based on the highest donation average per student. They are rewarded with a piñata and a bag of candy to celebrate.

Cruz adds that there is a lesson to participating in the food drive,”Every little bit does make a difference. So, if a student gives me a five dollar bill, a quarter, or a penny, I happily take it because I know it will make a difference.”