Class was not in session at Newton-Conover High School on Thursday, but the cafeteria was open.
Handfuls of students — now on Christmas break — still showed up to school to feed hundreds of area children and their families. A collaboration of NCHS students, teachers and local volunteers helped feed a steady stream of area citizens on Thursday.
There were no qualifiers to participate; people just showed up to eat.
Rachael Hamm, a sophomore at NCHS, was one of about 50 students who served, entertained and fed the hungry on Thursday.
“It’s a great thing for the community,” she said just after pouring a patron a fresh glass of sweet tea. “It makes the world a better place.”
This is the first year NCHS has held a luncheon for the community. The event stemmed from a conversation teachers Brenda Wilson and Donna Schronce had about a homeless student at school — one of the many NCHS students they say are either homeless or living in poverty.
They then pitched the idea of a community luncheon to NCHS Principal Kevin Campbell, who was “100 percent on board,” Schronce said.
“We thought this would be a good way to give back,” she said. “We have a lot of students who are homeless and we wanted to do what we can do to give back."
Food for the luncheon came almost completely from donations, Wilson said. Teachers, families and community organizations all pitched in for the feast that included turkey, canned vegetables and desserts, among other foods.
NCHS teachers, for example, donated a total of 63 turkeys. School clubs provided some of the side items. Families in the community also contributed, including Dewayne Parsons, a NCHS parent who donated 60 cans of green beans.
“We have a growing number of the population in need, but also those who have wanted to help,” Schronce said.
NCHS students handed out all the food and drinks on Thursday, and Wilson’s Foods II class prepared all the turkeys. She said more students showed up to help on Thursday than had originally signed up.
“We have selfless kids,” Wilson said. “The students really care about others and what they are doing.”
The student council from South Newton Elementary School also helped bus tables and deliver food at the event, which also included a room for crafts and entertainment by the NCHS Christian club Youth Alive.
“Our goal is to be able to do this in the future,” Wilson said. “That’s the ultimate goal.”