With only a couple days’ notice, Quincy Emmons and his friend, Brady Alexander, put out a plea to people attending Richmond’s tree-lighting celebration last Friday to bring a non-perishable food item with them.

They expected maybe 100 items would be donated, Elissa Emmons, Quincy’s mother, said Monday.

What they got was more than 10 times that amount. When the counting and boxing was done on Saturday, more than 1,200 items were distributed into more than two dozen boxes of varied sizes in the Emmonses’ garage.

“It was a lot of work,” she said.

Now, some of that food will be sorted into food baskets for 10 area families who have said they could use a little extra help this holiday season, and much of the rest is destined for the Richmond Area Food Pantry, which will be open next on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m so proud of these two boys and how the community pulled it together around them,” said Kolleen Cass, a school counselor at Marcia Buker Elementary School in Richmond and at Dresden Elementary.

The Parent Teachers Group had been talking about starting a snack pantry at Marcia Buker so that students whose families aren’t able to send snacks along with them can have some during the day, Cass said, as well as students who forget theirs. The plan has been to establish that, and then work toward having a backpack program to send food home with students on the weekend if their families need it.

“I’ve been looking into this for several years,” Cass said.

The stumbling block has been finding funding because the school doesn’t qualify for some programs. Cass said families who might qualify for free or reduced-price lunches have not signed up for the program. When more students are in the program, the school receives more funding and that could help pay for a snack pantry.

This food drive jump-starts the timeline, she said, because any snack foods donated will stock that pantry.

“We’ve got a (Parent Teachers Group) that says, ‘We’re going to make this happen regardless,'” she said.

Emmons said one of the fathers in the group told her on Friday that the project promoted a great sense of community.

“He said it really brought people together,” she said.

She said she’s hoping that the idea can continue next year.

“What started at first as just a little idea by a little student became such a big thing,” Cass said. “The idea exploded in a really good way.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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