MOREHEAD CITY, Carteret County - With the new school year, some students in a local high school are continuing a project that's making a difference.
A charity initiative started by a student who graduated from West Carteret High School last year now has three other student volunteers working to make sure their food pantry stays stocked, taking time out of their school days to keep it running.
"It's basically just for students in our school who maybe are food insecure or maybe need some extra help," student Grace Tulevech said. "They can just come in and take food whenever they need it."
It's a small, tight space located in a former file room, but now it serves a greater purpose.
"The students can come into the counseling center and ask the counselor for a backpack and they can get one and go fill it with food in the pantry," Tulevech said. "They can bring it home with them and bring it back and keep refilling it."
Students can stock up on a variety of items, including personal hygiene products. One of the jobs of the student volunteers is to come into the pantry a few times during the week, check on the expiration dates of the products, and make sure nothing is expired.
"Last year, judging by the number of packs that went home, we serviced between 60 and 80 students," Michael Turner, a teacher at West Carteret High School, said. "The students were some monthly visitors, some weekly visitors and daily as well."
Tulevech said that the people that come to the school's food pantry are anonymous. There is a suggestion box where students can write down the type of food they want and then the volunteers read them and communicate the suggestions back to the people who donate food to the pantry.
"I have had some of [the students] come up to me in class and say, 'thanks, we appreciate this,'" Turner said.
The students say that since they began volunteering, they've come to appreciate the value of the food pantry to their school. They say they'd like to see their fellow students take advantage of it and see other schools set up similar pantries.
The West Carteret High School food pantry is accepting cash donations. If you'd like to help the students out, contact West Carteret High School at (252) 726-1176 to find out when you can drop off your donations.