Pekin’s Scott Altman Primary School students came together for the school’s annual food drive to collect 355 food items for those in need in the area.

From Jan. 22 through Feb. 5, students in kindergarten through third grade brought in non-perishable food items for the Cans of Love food drive.

Those items will all be donated and delivered to Pekin Union Mission on Thursday or Friday, said Principal Lynn Brown. Flyers went home with students to let families know about the service project. Suggested food items were also listed which included canned beans, granola bars, pasta and sauce, cooking oils, soup, stew, cereal and boxed pudding.

“We have had a wonderful response,” Brown said.

Cans of Love not only helps those in need but it can serve as a learning experience for the students.

“We are trying to teach our children to give back to our community,” said Brown. “Some families in town have less than others, and if we can help, it’s important to do that.”

Kindergarten teacher Debbie Denning, who has been teaching at the school for 24 years, was instrumental in the project.

Denning said they as a school have done many types of community service projects in the past including a gently used coat drive for children at the school and other area children, and a pop tab collection for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to give to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Altman School typically does a food drive in November or December. However, after talking with the leadership team at Altman School, Denning suggested waiting until February to hold the drive.

“Very often groups have food drives in November and December, leaving the months that follow without as much (food),” she said. “We decided to wait for that reason. We did not want this to be a competition between classes but to come together as a whole school.”

Caring about others reinforces the teachers’ efforts to instill social conscience and caring about others.

“It’s all about people who need help,” Denning said.