PARAMUS, NJ — Students at Paramus’ Stony Lane Elementary School have been collecting money and food for weeks.
"It makes me feel happy inside because we know we are doing good for the community," said Lillian Burrows, 9.
They've raised enough money and collected enough non-perishable goods to feed 45 families in Paramus this Thanksgiving.
The children bring loose change to school and dump it into a container they call 'the giving gobbler.' They collect food and toiletries in boxes outside each classroom.
"This is a way we can teach children the lesson of compassion," said Principal Tom Marshall.
The idea to give back this way started in one classroom years ago.
"I really wanted to as a teacher show that it’s important to think about others and this is the perfect time, during Thanksgiving," said Debbie Winters.
Tuesday, the entire school - about 200 children in grades K-4, along with their families and teachers - donated money, food and more.
Then they gather together for a big feast. The children cook side dishes and the parents cook turkeys.
"People think Paramus is an extremely wealthy community, however we have a lot of families that I’ll call, caught in between," said Debbie Cibelli, director of the Paramus Community Pantry.
Each year the Paramus community food pantry feeds 60 to 70 families.
They qualify a family of four as 'in need' if they earn less than $68,000 per year, since the cost of living is so high.
All of the donated items collected by Stony Lane Elementary will be brought to the community pantry and distributed to families as early as tomorrow morning.