By Jennifer Yos
LANSING, Ill. (March 3, 2021) – Up until this pandemic year, every February for the past eleven years School District 158 has hosted a successful charity-driven Roundball Classic basketball tournament for local fifth graders. The four-day event at Memorial Junior High School not only promoted friendly sports competition, but also raised funds and served as a food drive for local community organizations.
Food drive despite no tournament
After last year’s tournament, event organizers Rick Seymour and Sally Reynolds announced they would be stepping down from organizing it, an announcement that left the future of the Roundball Classic in peril. That uncertainty combined with the pandemic kept the tournament from happening this year. However, District 158 Board of Education Secretary Mary Kelly suggested the district alternatively conduct a food drive throughout the month of February.
The district hoped to reach or surpass 1,000 donated food items to be delivered to the Lansing Community Food Pantry at 2990 Ridge Road on Tuesday, March 2.
Last year’s Roundball tournament totaled a whopping 5,737 donated food items, but that number included contributions from schools outside District 158—Heritage Middle School, Lansing Christian, and St. Ann School, which took First Place in the Roundball food drive competition. Food item donations were also collected throughout the four-day tournament.
Local schools meet the challenge creatively
Reavis Principal David Kostopoulos acknowledges that soliciting donations has been harder this year, but Reavis has tried to compensate by hosting food drives that coordinate with student educational material and with PTA craft supply pick-ups.
“The Reavis PTA supported the food drive by creating Valentine’s Day card craft kits for students to pick up when they dropped off food items,” he explained. He added that they also hope to support the food pantry with produce that is grown in their school garden over the summer. “We are aware of many families that are in need of food during this pandemic especially,” he explained. “Additionally, there are many families that are looking to donate as so many are looking for ways they can contribute to helping others in their community.”
Coolidge Principal Pam Hodgson echoed the sentiment: “With so many families struggling right now, I am happy to see Coolidge families coming together to help others in our community. Learning remotely makes having a food drive a little more difficult. However, our Coolidge families came through once again and dropped off 467 items for the Lansing Food Pantry. I’m glad that Coolidge School along with the rest of Lansing School District 158 were able to support our community.”
On March 2, Oak Glen Principal Michael Earnshaw announced, “I cannot be more proud of all of our Oak Glen Grizzly staff, students, and families! Throughout the month of February we collected 1,182 items to donate to the Lansing Food Pantry! I am so proud and honored to serve in such a great community that even in the midst of a pandemic when we are not together at school, we’re still able to collect and donate so many items that will help our Lansing families in need. This is proof that a ‘school’ is so much more than a building, it’s a community that looks out for one another.”
On March 2, District 158 custodial staff helped deliver the food items to the Lansing Community Food Pantry, where volunteers were waiting. Using an angled chute, boxes were slid down into the basement of the Lansing Assembly, which serves as the Lansing Community Food Pantry. The pantry is open for recipients on alternating Tuesdays, depending on a recipient’s last name. First-time visitors must follow a procedure in order to become food recipients.
District 158 offices are located at 18300 Greenbay Avenue in Lansing. The Lansing Community Food Pantry is located in the basement of the Lansing Assembly church at 2990 Ridge Road in Lansing and its phone number is 708-446-9298.
- Roundball Classic organizers to step down (February 22, 2020)
Lansing Community Food Pantry recaps year of generosity (November 11, 2020)