MILTON — While enjoying the fresh fall air Thursday, hundreds of local elementary students helped ensure area families in need wouldn't go hungry.
As part of an annual tradition, a stream of about 200 students, teachers and school officials took a walk around the block to drop off donations to volunteers from the local food pantry, operated by Community Action Partnership of Strafford County. The pantry relocated from Charles Street to its new location at 55 Industrial Way.
The items — which included child-friendly foods like Spaghetti-O's and macaroni and cheese — will help feed about 20 to 25 families from Milton, Milton Mills and Middleton, according to Terry Magoon, outreach specialist with CAP.
"It helps out — it does," Magoon said. "A lot of parents and kids donate what they like."
As a result, Magoon said families with children can receive something special the next time they visit the pantry, which receives a mix of items from the state food bank, area supermarkets and from the community.
With sunshine and mild temperatures, Superintendent Michael Tursi, who participated in his first walk this year, said they couldn't have asked for a better day to get out and learn a powerful lesson.
"It's a great way to give back to the community," Tursi said.
School nurse Susan Welch said this event is part of the school's wellness program. Students get a little outdoor exercise while helping those in need.
"It's always good to help," Welch said. The pantry volunteers collect the donations from the students who then continue their walk back to school.
"They just carry what they brought," Welch said, and school officials deliver any extra donations to the pantry.
Magoon, who remembers when her daughter took part in the walk in the past, hopes this will encourage more donations as the holiday season approaches.
"Milton's always been good at taking care of each other," Magoon said, adding firefighters collected more than 100 pounds of donated food last week.
Fire Chief Nick Marique said firefighters will continue to accept donations through November at the main fire station along White Mountain Highway, Route 125, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. or "whenever the light is on."