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Orcutt elementary program provides thousands of free meals

The Santa Barbara County Foodbank has always been student teacher Anthony Bruemmer’s favorite charity. So when his 4th grade students at Ralph Dunlap Elementary in Orcutt began putting together a public service announcement video on the food bank for the district’s “Digital Media Academy,” he knew they could take it a step further.

“We decided to do a fundraiser for the class, and it sort of sprouted from there to every class on campus,” says Bruemmer.

He assigned a different student to each classroom, encouraging everyone to help raise money that goes a long way at the food bank.

“We told everybody when we did our little speeches to each class that we’d accept any kind of coin” he says. “Nickels, pennies, dimes, because they do really stretch it very far.”

One dollar can go towards providing as many as eight healthy meals.

“It’s great to help out our community, and make sure people are not hungry,” says 4th grader Austin Regan. “It makes me feel really good to know we raised a lot of food for a lot of people who do not have it.”

The school has raised enough money to provide more than 17,000 meals across Santa Barbara County.

“1 in 4 people in the community will reach out to us in the next year for help,” says Laurel Alcantar, who works at the food bank in Santa Maria. “So to see these kids just really put in the effort of gathering and grassroots, helping out their neighbors and friends, it is just a really wonderful feeling.”

Bruemmer says he hopes the project continues, saying charity has no age requirement.

“I was walking through the halls and a second grader asked me ‘Hey Mr. Bruemmer how many meals have we raised?’ and i just thought it was so cool that he was asking about how many meals and not how much money, or if they were going to win the pizza party. but this little 7-year-old truly wanted to know how many meals we’d raised and that was probably the coolest part for me.”

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