District’s Youth Ending Hunger Club, food pantry celebrates 20th anniversary

Three boys and one girl smiling.
Youth Ending Hunger Club members Ben Kramer, Aidan Connell, Caleb Tirado, and Genesis Gierbolini-Pagan work together to pack food baskets for the holidays.

This year, the Youth Ending Hunger Club and food pantry is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Founded by former fourth grade teacher Regina Botens during the 2000-01 school year, the club’s mission has been to educate students about ending hunger both locally and globally.

Students attend monthly meetings, run food drives and pack holiday food baskets to distribute to local families in need. According to Advisor Amanda Tirado, students enjoy the hands-on experience of sorting and organizing the donations, and many volunteer their time during recess to work in the food pantry.

Club members participate in a number of activities throughout the school year, including the Middletown CROP Walk, volunteering at the Goshen Ecumenical Food Pantry, packing baskets of food for Thanksgiving,  Chanukah and Christmas, and making greeting cards for basket recipients.  Club members also participated in a presentation about the Goshen Ecumenical Food Pantry and the work they do for local families, conducted by John Strobl and Mark O’Hara.

At times, working to combat hunger has a profound effect on members. Goshen High School senior Marissa Lombardi, who has been a club member since she was in third grade, personally funded, sought donations and prepared 25 food baskets for the Christmas and Chanukah holidays, in addition to toiletry kits, children’s utensil kits and stuffed animals.

Parent volunteers are an important part of the Youth Ending Hunger Club.  They send in food donations, assist at monthly meetings, help supervise students as they pack the food baskets, and support their children’s desire to help members of their community.  Over the years the club has also received generous donations from local businesses and other community members. Again this year, Firefighter Brian Gallo ran a toy drive through the Goshen Police and Fire Departments to help make holidays a little brighter for local children.

“The kids have been delightful, and I could not do this without the help of all the parents who have volunteered” said Tirado.  “This [work] definitely takes a village.”

Families who reside in the Goshen Central School District and are need of assistance are eligible for food baskets. For assistance or to make a donation, contact Club Advisor Amanda Tirado at the Goshen Intermediate School, 21 McNally Street, Goshen, NY 10924 or e-mail amanda.tirado@gcsny.org.

Families in need may also fill out the Youth Ending Hunger Club Assistance Form that can be found on each school home page on the district website www.gcsny.org.