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More than just collecting cans

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FIRST FRIDAY:‘You Can Do It’ hopscotch was one of the games and decorations set up for First Friday.
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VOLUNTEERS: Left to right, students Kandice Webb, Kerstin Simpson, Chazlynn Fields, Kristina Taylor and Xander Miller volunteered their time during First Friday.
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DRIVE: Liz Hobbs, director of the Access Youth Center, helps organize the canned food drive during First Friday, Nov. 1.
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DONATIONS: On Monday,Hobbs said 126 cans had been collected, with more potentially on the way. Delivery will begin Tuesday.

By Rob Burgess - rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com

During First Friday, Nov. 1, the Access Youth Center, 74 W. Canal St., was the site of a canned food drive, as Access Learning Academy (ALA) students partnered with local organizations to fight hunger.

Before the canned food collection, staff and students canvassed the community, speaking with citizens about the event and providing door hangers with information about their venture.

In a cooperative effort with Wabash City Schools, the ALA provides academic and life-skill instruction to those students in need of an alternative classroom setting.

Liz Hobbs, director of the Access Youth Center, showed off the decorations they had created for the event.

“We have a little tricycle maze through the cans and then we did the ‘You Can Do It’ hopscotch,” she said. “The kids picked out the sayings. This was my favorite one: ‘Clear your mind of can’t.’ How awesome is that?”

Hobbs said this was the first year the students have undertaken such a project.

“It’s really been wonderful,” she said. “Not only the amount of food that’s been brought in so far but also just the awareness of what FISH (Friends in Service Here) and Living Well in Wabash County, the pantries. do.”

Hobbs said a few students toured FISH that Wednesday and others had fanned out into the community to speak about the food drive.

“It really made an impact on them how many families are blessed by and are helped by the food pantries,” she said. “Some people weren’t home, some people were, but the ones who were home and gave, I think they were really blessed by that.”

Student Kandice Webb said one mother had allowed a young girl to deliver a donation at the door.

“It was cute,” she said.

Hobbs said the outreach to the community would provide a lasting impact.

“That really ties in with what we do here when we want to show them the importance of caring and connecting with their neighbors,” she said. “I love the fact that they’re learning how to do that and that they seem excited. We don’t know what that’s going to spark.”

In a phone interview Monday, Hobbs said 126 cans had been collected, with more potentially on the way. Delivery will begin Tuesday.

“It was great that us being here on First Friday kind of brought that awareness to them that we were doing it. So, even if they don’t donate through us, maybe it will make them just take it directly to FISH, which would be awesome, as well. Because obviously, the goal is to get it to FISH,” she said.

Brad Metzger Allstate Agency and Living Well in Wabash also assisted in this project. For more information call 260-563-2070 or visit accessyouthcenter.org.