Oakland police assist Monday as hundreds of students at Messalonskee Middle School walk to the Oakland-Sidney United Methodist Church to deliver donated food items for area food pantries. Photo courtesy of Oakland police

OAKLAND — Although hundreds of Messalonskee Middle School students walked Oakland’s streets Monday with many donning spooky costumes, this was no ordinary Halloween parade — the students were headed to the Oakland-Sidney United Methodist Church to deliver over 1,500 donated food items for area food pantries.

This was the second food drive in five years organized by a team of teachers at Messalonskee Middle School, supplying the Oakland Food Pantry, the Sidney Community Food Pantry and the Belgrade-Rome Special Needs Pantry with donations ahead of winter.

Students, divided into six teams, were given two weeks by their teachers to collect as many food items as possible for donation by the end of last week.

“This generated some fun competition between teams,” Principal Sam Dunbar wrote in an email. The school is part of Regional School Unit 18.

The six teams ended up collecting enough food to provide around 500 items to each food pantry.

Dunbar said he modified Monday’s school schedule to shorten classes and allow for two separate walks over to the church from the middle school.


Dunbar said the school district’s two school resource officers, Tracey Frost and Pete Tibbetts, assisted students at each road crossing.

“It was fun,” student Caroline Clifford-Bickford said of the food drive. “It is only our second month in school and we are already doing something big for the community and gathering food for them.”

Sandy Swartz, volunteer operations manager at the Oakland pantry, said the student effort was “a very meaningful, heartwarming experience.”

She said the support from the middle school and other donors means the pantry for now has a “sufficient amount of food.”

That being said, Swartz said the pantry always welcomes donations, since you “never know what’ll happen in the winter.”

People can drop off food items at the church on the first and third Thursday of this month, from 4 to 6 p.m.

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