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Fifth-graders at Auke Bay took their annual canned food drive a step further this year by also volunteering at the Glory Hole.
Auke Bay Elementary teacher Pam Garcia has initiated a canned food drive for the whole school to participate in. This year, her class was inspired further by a story about Juneau-Douglas High School Interact students sleeping out to help raise funds for their homeless peers and the fifth-grade class wanted to do more.
Garcia's class took the city bus on Friday downtown to the Glory Hole, unloaded a truck full of food and got to work. Garcia had the students take the bus so they could learn how it worked, how to read the schedule and understand not everyone can afford a car.
Once students unloaded boxes upon boxes of food, some put on gloves and helped prepare lunch for Glory Hole clients while others did the heavy lifting and sorting of canned foods and stocked the facility's pantry. The group brought in so much food, some of it had to be brought upstairs.
One of the Glory Hole patrons told the students riddles, and another shook their hands and wished them a Merry Christmas.
"We've been talking about being a good citizen," Garcia said. "Part of being a good citizen is volunteering in the community."
Part of the lesson also included reading the "Out in the Rain" calendar, which highlights people in Juneau who have experienced some temporary homelessness. Her class learned there are all kinds of reasons homelessness happens - health problems, job loss or death in the family are just a few.
"Sometimes kids just receive, receive, receive," Garcia said. "They're getting an opportunity to give."
Students prepared pamphlets to take home and posters for each classroom to help drive up donations for the collection, but what they liked the most was the interaction with Glory Hole.
Students Tristin Eidsness and Dallin Gomez said the most important part of the day was that they were helping out.
"My favorite part about this was getting all the food together and unloading the truck," said student Sierra Larson.
Kassidy Pietz, another student, agreed.
"The most important thing about doing this for me is helping out the people who are less fortunate than my family," she said, adding that she believes the work they did will have a big impact. "We've brought a lot of food. I think it will make a big difference."
Colton Tersteeg, student, took command of the pantry in the kitchen, sorting out fruits and vegetables, soups, tuna and other items with fellow classmates, occasionally calling for another empty crate.
Alex Henricksen and Chelsea Hohenstein said they were glad to help and were appreciative that a whole class could come out and volunteer.
Several students said they would continue volunteering, adding that their family already makes donations to charity in several ways.
Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@ juneauempire.com.