If you want to see the Core Ethical Values in action, look no further than the guidance office conference room at Strong School on a weekday afternoon in late October. That is where you will find teachers, guidance counselors and representatives from Durham-Middlefield Youth and Family Services.
There is one goal that unites these people: supporting the needs of Middlesex County through the Community Round-Up, now in its 14th year.
Does a can of corn or a jar of peanut butter change lives? No. But it’s never just one can or one jar. It’s thousands. Those cans and jars are collected through the tireless efforts of people like Kathy Bottini, who continues to oversee the Community Round-Up.
Along with teachers and leaders from throughout the district, Bottini organizes the collection of food one can at a time. Those collections make their way to the food pantries in Middlefield and Durham, and then to Amazing Grace in Middletown.
In true selfless fashion, Bottini shares recognition with others when asked about the success of the program. “Everyone just knows what to do and works together beautifully,” she said.
Combine that with a lot of hard work and planning. Nothing this spectacular happens overnight.
For those who have not had the privilege of seeing how this whole operation works: teams of parents and students are given a route through the district, where they request donations of nonperishable food, money or gift cards. Those items are brought back to the cafeteria at Coginchaug, where they are counted, sorted and boxed up for delivery. From there, they go to the food pantries.
Those cans of food don’t just change the lives of those who receive them; they change the lives of those who are part of this process. This is not an exclusive club, however. All are invited.
How do you get an invitation? By picking up an extra can of soup, a box of pasta, or even a gift card. Put a bag of food on your front porch on Dec. 7, or maybe remind your neighbor that the Community Round-Up is on the horizon.
As with all things, the success of this program is founded in the hard work and generosity of many people: community members, teachers and organizations like the DMYFS, and the Wellness Coalition.
As Bottini reminds us, “We have an amazing community.”