Clifton Park Elementary School PE teacher Tora Haws gathers kindergarten students Tuesday to make two laps around a marked-off track at the school. Pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students are walking three days this week in support of a food drive. Haws and her son and daughter came up with the food drive when they read that a local senior center was seeking donations.

By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald

Motivated by service and fitness, Clifton Park Elementary School students are walking and collecting canned foods this week.

The school is accepting donated non-perishable items through Friday to donate to the Lions Club Park Senior Center and its monthly bingo for senior citizens activity.

Physical education teacher Tora Haws noticed a recent news brief detailing the center’s need for food items to use for prizes in bingo games.

Her own children became the catalysts for the school’s food drive.

Second-grader Bryce Haws had a friend who entered foster care and experienced food shortage. Haws’ daughter, Ellison High School sophomore Bailey Wade, has always been a softie for senior citizens.

Haws, wanting to focus on fitness, helped conceive Food for Fitness.

Monday yielded a shopping cart full of canned fruit and vegetables, cereal, soup and other non-perishable goods and by Tuesday morning the cart was filling up again.

Haws reached out to nearby Ellison High School, where Clifton Park students typically end up attending.

Wade, a junior varsity volleyball player, received permission to hand out fliers to friends in support of the food drive.

The high school is supporting the drive through daily announcements, requesting donations.

All classes of pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students are using their P.E. classes to walk two laps a day for three days. Haws and fellow P.E. teacher Jayme Ramsey are accumulating 14 laps a day.

After walking, the students drink water, rest and take part in cool-down exercises inside an air-conditioned gym.

“I think it’s good for kids to see how we can do good things for people,” Haws said. “We’ve started early in the school year and hopefully we will do it all year.”

Bryce said when he saw the issues his friend faced, it made him sad and he wanted to find ways to help people.

“The idea of not having enough came home to him,” his mom said.