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Students and Rotary box Christmas cheer

DONATING TIME: Students from Picayune High School volunteered with the Rotary Club to box up Christmas cheer for needy families. Each box contained about 50 pounds of food items.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

DONATING TIME: Students from Picayune High School volunteered with the Rotary Club to box up Christmas cheer for needy families. Each box contained about 50 pounds of food items.
Photo by Cassandra Favre


On Friday, more than 5,000 pounds of food lined the floor of the automotive technology shop at the Picayune Career and Technology Center.
One-hundred boxes lay waiting to be filled by the swift hands of automotive technology students, softball and cheer team members, and representatives from Picayune’s Rotary Club.
For more than 50 years, the Rotary Club has sponsored Christmas baskets, which are filled and donated to needy families in Pearl River County.
The Rotary partners with the Picayune School District to bring in food each year.
Leo Raverty has been an automotive technology teacher for the past 16 years and his students participate in the event every year.
“The canned food is a gift from the students,” Raverty said. “Each classroom in every school has a box for donations.”
After the food is collected, Raverty’s students separate the cans into different categories.
Seventeen-year-old automotive student Peyton Stephens said this was his second year to participate.
“Some people aren’t as well off as others and help is nice to have,” Stephens said.
Gage Wilson, 16, is also an automotive student and said he enjoys helping people in the community he lives in.
The young ladies from the high school softball and cheer team arrived just in time to pack each box with about 50 pounds of food.
Sixteen-year-old Amanda Fendley is on the softball team and has participated in the event for the past two years.
“We box the food up and stack it on the truck for distribution,” Fendley said. “This is an important event because we help other people. It’s all about being selfless. This behind-the-scenes work is fun.”
This was 15-year-old Alyssa Pinero’s first year packing Christmas baskets.
“I enjoy helping others in need,” Pinero said. “It’s good to help others that don’t have as much as someone else.”
Each basket is filled with canned goods, bread, potatoes, sugar, apples, onions, half of a ham, macaroni and cheese and rice.
Rotarian John Pigott said that throughout the year the club hosts fundraisers to purchase the perishable items for the baskets.
Once Christmas baskets are filled they are distributed to waiting families.
The Rotary Club partners with Christian Care Ministries in Picayune to obtain a list of families in need, member Suzan Wilson said.
“Once the families are screened by Christian Care, they give us a call list,” Wilson said. “We make contact with the families to inform them about their basket.”
Wilson said youth participation is a major contribution to the Christmas basket project.
“It’s about everyone coming together,” Wilson said. “We are so grateful for the role the young people play. Without them, this wouldn’t be possible. We are grateful to be able to do this and give back to our community.”