AAEA food drive benefits Mountain Lion backpack program


Brr! Volunteer Paul Caracciolo III carries boxes of food to the truck where it is donated. There were 11 skids worth of food donated.

Connor George, Reporter

On Feb. 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the teacher’s union (Altoona Area Education Association) held a food drive organized by physics teacher Jeremy Rupeka and social studies teacher Shane McBurney. The food donated at the food drive benefitted the Mountain Lion Backpack Program. After the food was collected, volunteers transferred the colelctions to the Mountain Lion Backpack Program warehouse on Beale Ave. Many teachers, from many different schools, and community members participated in the event.

Teachers volunteered their time and also made donations.

“We had 13 teachers participate: Shane McBurney, Doug Spayd, Jason Geis, Michele Hallinan, Chris Hallinan, Jennyfer Wilson, Dave Eberhart, Allison Church, Leigh Kozak, Erick Kozak, Kristie Williams, Melissa Dively and myself,” Rupeka said.

This year, the food drive had a particular goal with a particular reason in mind.

“We want to try to raise as much food as possible because there might not be as many food events this year,” Rupeka said.

At the food drive, the teachers were able to raise quite a bit of food.

“It’s a lot better than expected, we had a little more than 11 skids [wooden pallets] when we took it to our warehouse. We were also able to donate $470 to the backpack program,” Rupeka said.

Organizers were aware of the stress placed upon the entire community.

“The community was just hit hard with COVID-19, so asking people to donate was really difficult. We were lucky that the community pulled through for us,” McBurney said.