Monday, March 8, when the last donation was counted for St. Mary’s Dominican High School’s 22nd annual canned food drive, it was a record-breaking 67,178 donations for Second Harvest Food Bank.
Coordinated through the school’s Office of Dominican Catholic Identity, this year’s competition was inspired by the theme song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” from the animated film, Toy Story. “You’ve Got a Friend in Dominican” was the rallying theme and each class level was assigned a character from the film.
Seniors took 1st place with donations totaling 16,413. Freshmen were in 2nd place with 12,119; 8th Grade, 3rd place, 12,036; Sophomores, 4th place, 9,944; and Juniors, 5th place, 5,596. Student donations totaled 56,108, surpassing its goal of 25,000. Alumnae joined this year’s drive, collecting 11,070 that went beyond their 5,000 goal.
“Recognizing the extraordinary needs in our community, the St. Mary’s Dominican High School community responded and surpassed previous canned food drives’ goals,” said school President Dr. Cynthia A. Thomas. “This annual drive is one of several projects that reflect our school’s pillars of community and service. Dominican students and alumnae are called to embody those commitments. Their collaboration demonstrated in an impactful way how they answered that call.”
For sophomore Isabelle Tran, this school year is the first time she is serving as the Campus Ministry Service Officer, a position she says allowed her to get more involved not only with her grade, “but with my school as a whole. My fellow sisters here at Dominican were already aware how important canned food drives are, but we were even more motivated this year after seeing the strain that COVID-19 has put on our Southern Louisiana community. We knew this year had to be the best that it could possibly be.”
Since 2011, Dominican has donated 187,920 pounds of food to Second Harvest Food Bank. On average, 500,000 people receive food from Second Harvest Food Bank every month – double the number they served before the pandemic
“We are so excited about this huge effort by the ladies of Dominican, which will help thousands in our community,” said Natalie Jayroe, President & CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank. “As an affiliated ministry of the Archdiocese, it’s especially meaningful to us when another partner in the Church delivers such an impactful gift to those we serve.”
As both a teacher and an alumna (Class of ’00), Casey Lefante says she is “always impressed with the way our students step up to the challenge. Having the alumnae participate in the canned food drive was special because it represented what it means to be part of the Dominican community. We live out the pillars of prayer, study, community, and service not just when we walk the halls of Dominican, but also in our daily lives as alumnae. It was a pleasure to work with the students to create such a successful food drive for our community.”
When alumna Janet Emig heard about the invitation for alumnae to participate in the drive, she immediately spread the word to fellow members of the Class of ’75 and others she knew would want to help. “When the cause is so important and benefits your community, it’s easy to get involved and get others involved as well,” she said.
In addition to direct food drop offs at the school, cash donations via Venmo and the school’s donation link came in quickly. Emig added a special shout out to Kristen Preau Moore (’01), “our very own Jambalaya Girl, who stepped up in a big way with 21 cases of Jambalaya mix and Debra Davis Hymel (’79) who helped me haul 6,000 cans of vegetables from Breaux Mart. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again next year, but the cans have to be lighter!”
Second Harvest Food Bank is an affiliated ministry of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, a member of Feeding America, and a United Way Partner Agency. It leads the fight against hunger and in building food security in South Louisiana by providing food access, advocacy, education, and disaster response. Providing food to more than 700 partners and programs across 23 parishes, it is the largest charitable anti-hunger network in the state.