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August 18. 2013 11:16PM

Alvirne's Marching Broncos collect for food pantry


Alvirne High School Music Director Gerry Bastien salutes this year's campers after being splashed with milk from Stonyfield Farm's "Milk and Cookies" van. All 2006 campers, members of the Marching Bronco's band and color guard, had the chance to celebrate their accomplishments Thursday afternoon after collecting hundreds of non-perishable food items for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Hudson. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)


Stonyfield Farm’s employee Ryan Lambert, aka “The Milk Man,” whipped campers into a frenzy Thursday afternoon during a visit to the Alvirne High School band camp. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

HUDSON — There was no crying over spilled milk at Alvirne High School Thursday afternoon, when Stonyfield Farm's famous "Milk Man" came roaring onto the field as the 200 or so members of the school's Marching Broncos were wrapping up another full day of band camp.

Fortunately, there was plenty of milk, yogurt and other goodies left over to share with local families in need.

Throughout this past week, members of the marching band and color guard have been collecting hundreds of items for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Hudson.

Sophomore Gillian McNally, who plays the baritone horn in the band, said she knew right away she wanted to help out the local charity, especially after she learned that food supplies are stretched thin during the summer months. After getting the green light from her teachers and peers, she's hoping the food drive will become a summer fixture.

"I thought of all the people who come to band camp," McNally said. "I knew we could really make a huge impact."

Music Director Gerry Bastien agreed.

"These kids have really showed what community is all about," he said.

At Alvirne High School, students in honors classes are required to complete community service hours and McNally, who has overseen the food drive this past week, said "at least an hour" was spent each day at camp collecting and counting donations.

Additional funds for the pantry were raised by selling $1 chances to "guess the total weight" of the final food tally.

While the final count wasn't available at press time, McNally said the results definitely exceeded her expectations.

"It's overwhelming," she said. "I was wasn't expecting all this."

Indeed, the food drive has even sparked some friendly competition among the band and color guard, which is divided into 20 different squads during marching formations.

The Marching Broncos will perform at Walt Disney World this spring. This year's music selection includes music from various James Bond films.

When the folks at Stonyfield Farm Yogurt heard about the camp's collection they knew they wanted to do something special for the kids.

As part of the company's "Milk and Cookies" tour, Alvirne High School alumna Bria Knapp and Ryan Lambert, aka "The Milk Man," regularly visit schools and camps to hand out free milk and cookies.

The duo had a special surprise for the campers Thursday, however, when they brought along several cases of items to donate to the local pantry.

Later, the crowd was whipped into frenzy when Lambert stood atop his van, splashing Bastien in the face with some fresh, organic milk.

Food pantry spokeswoman Pauline Boisvert said the band camp's donations would be put to good use.

"The summer months tend to be difficult ones for us," Boisvert said. "We see a lot less things being donated."

On Wednesday, about 100 families stopped by the food pantry, which also provides bagged meals for needy children who aren't getting their free school lunch during the summer months.

Boisvert said it makes her heart happy to see teenagers interested in helping others.

"They're learning how to share, which is important in life," she said. She's hoping a few of the Alvirne campers might even consider volunteering at the pantry sometime soon.

"I never refuse help," Boisvert said with a smile.

The food pantry, located at 23 Library St. in Hudson, is currently in need of flour, sugar, canned meats, coffee and tea.

For more information on volunteering or donating at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, call 882-2472, ext. 6.

aguilmet@newstote.com


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