On Nov. 5, Collegedale Academy’s 300-plus high school students carried bag after bag of nonperishable food items into the school’s gym. It was pickup day for the school’s annual food collection drive. Community members were asked to leave bags of nonperishables out Tuesday morning for CA students to pick up and deliver to The Samaritan Center in Ooltewah, Tenn.
The food drive, called CAD 4 Hope, is named after the program’s founder, Richard Cadavero, the former CA teacher who died in September 2013. “It’s our opportunity to make him proud,” said Joelle Kanyana, Collegedale Academy senior.
Cadavero launched Project 5,000 in the 1990s. It was his challenge to CA students to collect 5,000 food items for needy families in the Ooltewah/Collegedale area. The program took off and became an annual event at the school. By the mid-2000s, the drive was collecting more than 40,000 cans per year. So the school did away with counting each of them. Now, thanks to a scale on loan, donations are measured in pounds. Last year, the school collected nearly 13,000 pounds of food—about equal to an adult African elephant. This year, the school collected 12,615 pounds of food and expected more to trickle in during the weeks following the event.
“This will keep up their food pantry for about an entire year,” said Chris Massengill, Collegedale Academy chaplain.
Emma Hooper, volunteer and programs coordinator at The Samaritan Center, said CAD 4 Hope is the center’s “main food drive.”
Overseeing the operation can be a stressful gig. Take Tuesday morning in the school’s gym, where students were free to hang out after unloading their donations. Some freshmen tossed one another into enormous piles of empty cardboard boxes. Footballs flew around. Running.
“In a couple of hours, I will be relaxing,” Massengill said. But not yet. A few kids were very late getting back. A vehicle carrying students broke down, latecomers explained.
It sounds like a lot of trouble—and a big liability—for a food drive. It probably would be...if it were just a food drive.
“It’s an opportunity to practice what we believe,” Kanyana said. “It’s an opportunity to think outside ourselves.”
In a corner of the gym, her fellow seniors talked while stacking empty boxes—not leaping into them like the freshmen across the room. By now, seniors know the drill and the significance of what CAD 4 Hope means to
Collegedale and Ooltewah.
“A lot of people want to prove that we actually care,” Kanyana said.
The younger ones will get it someday. This was their first CAD 4 Hope drive, but Kanyana believes “they know it’s important.”
Important because a lot of Tuesday’s donations will be the only food some Collegedale and Ooltewah residents will have to eat and important because it’s not just a food drive—it’s being a good neighbor.
This article was originally published by Chattanooga Times Free Press on Nov. 13, 2013.
by Alex Green, Chattanooga Times Free Press staff writer