At Colonial Elementary School (CES), the community service club CES Cares recently held a food drive that wasn't like any they had before. All of the donations needed to be gluten-, nut- or dairy-free for people in need who also have food allergies.
"I'm dairy-free, but we can actually go to the store and buy dairy-free products. Some other people can't," said fifth grader Rayannah Abdulla. "I brought in gluten-free pasta and crackers to help people who can't go to the store and buy it themselves."
The donations are going to The Rachel Way Foundation, a local nonprofit organization started by parents in the Colonial School District whose daughter was diagnosed with a gluten and dairy intolerance. The family began the foundation after realizing how difficult and expensive it was to shop for someone with a food allergy.
"It's right in the community.," said teacher Ken Grimes. "Their food pantry is in the Plymouth Meeting Mall, so it's all within the Colonial School District. It's a wonderful thing."
To encourage their friends to bring in donations for the cause, the CES students created posters, wrote speeches and decorated collection bins.
"We got more donations than I thought we would, because gluten-free and nut-free products are hard to find," explained Lindy Arnold, also a fifth grade student at CES. "I'm proud that we're helping people."
Once each month, CES Cares meets in the morning before school to kick-off a new campaign. The club will be collecting new stuffed animals (must still have tags attached) through November 16. More than 150 students volunteered with CES Cares over the past year.