FULTON, Miss. (WTVA) - Schools in Itawamba County utilize the month of November as an opportunity to take part in a friendly competition.
Each school challenges students to collect as many non-perishable food items as possible.
What's known as the Pack the Bus Food Drive helps people who are in need of donations and helps students understand the importance of giving.
"I think the more we can make kids aware there is a need, there's people out there suffering, [it's a good effort]," said Harvey Clements, co-director of Fulton Food Pantry at United Methodist Church. "I think the more you get them involved in volunteering and helping, they'll understand what it's like to help somebody else."
The volunteers who donate their time and services at the food pantry said this year's shipment of donated food from the schools is the largest ever in the history of the friendly competition.
"In my time involved since 2004, we've had competitions," adds Clements. "A lot of food has been collected [in the past] but I have never seen this amount of food. Never. It's going to put a smile on a lot of people's faces."
The food donated will help feed an estimated 1,505 households. With around 3,200 people in Itawamba County at or below the poverty level according to state statistics, each box going out is a welcome sight.
"We feel the one's we're probably not reaching because we advertise and reach out do not go hungry in Itawamba County," adds Clements. "It's probably the folks that's got too much pride in coming forward and say they need help. It's available and we encourage anyone not to go hungry. [There's no] reason to."
As for the winners in this years Pack the Bus Food Drive, like every year organizers say it's the people on the receiving end.
Students from six schools packed the bus with 14,230 pounds of food.
The most came from Tremont, with over 3,000 pounds.
The Fulton Food Pantry at the United Methodist Church requested the services of prisoners to come in and help stack all the food.