Morley School Donates 2,000 Items Of Food In Red Wagon Food Drive

A parade of 60 little red wagons pulled by Morley Elementary School students marched its way to West Hartford's town hall the Wednesday morning to donate 2,000 items to the town's food pantry.

The annual tradition continued this year, in the absence of retired second grade teacher Dawn O'Connor, who started the food drive 20 years ago.

That didn't stop the eager school children from walking in temperatures hovering near 40 degrees to the front entrance of the town hall, where they filled brown boxes with the thousands of items they had collected at their school.

"The students realize how joyful it is to do something kind," said Nancy Stockman, the town's food pantry coordinator.

Last year, the town gave out around 6,000 bags of food through its pantry, she said. The red wagon food drive acts as a much-needed donation kick-off.

Mayor Shari Cantor helped students unload their wagons before speaking to them as a group outside town hall. She told them how important what they were doing is to the town.

"This walk and this contribution you make to the greater West Hartford community from the Morley community will stay with you forever," Cantor said. "I want you to remember how good you feel today. All of that food will go to families that need it. That warms my heart and that I know warms your heart. And that surely will warm the hearts of the people you're giving the food to."

oldest son, who is now 29, was part of the first ever little red wagon drive, she said.

"I know what a community effort this is," Cantor said. "I don't think we had 60 wagons then. I think we had 20. It grew a lot over time. Every Morley family knew you never get rid of your red wagon. You fix it. You save it. And you donate it."

Principal Ryan Cleary asked his students to raise their hands if it felt good to give to somebody else, and they did.

"This event is so important because for all of you it's a lesson in generosity and gratitude," Cleary said. "Generosity means giving what you have to somebody else. This is also about gratitude, which means being thankful for the things you have. That's what this event is really about."

Cleary told the students to think about the lesson they might have learned from the food drive.

"As we've been preparing for the red wagon food drive, many of you have been bringing in food from home," Cleary said. "When you were at home, opening up your cupboard, cabinet or pantry and picking out food items to bring to school to donate, you might have had that thought that there are some people who when they open that cupboard, cabinet or pantry, it's empty. That's why we do this. We do this so we can help out those people that need some food."

Cleary said events like this are a great way for Morley to show how much it cares about its community.

"This is such an important event," Cleary said. "We are starting to work our way into the season of giving. This event is so important because we're a community school. At Morley we care about each other and the greater West Hartford community. What you've done today is really special. I could not be prouder of every single student sitting in front of me."

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