STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) – Teachers and employees at a local school district are competing to see which group can collect more items for the district’s goods pantry.

The State College Area Education Association is holding a contest between its members and building staff. Those participating are asked to bring in household necessities for students and their families, such as toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste and other personal care items.

“The whole professional staff knows that if the basic needs of our students aren’t met, then they’re not going to learn from us,” Shai McGowan, the President of the State College Area Education Association said.

The competition will run until Nov. 17.

Anyone involved with the district, from students and their families to State College Area School District faculty and staff, is eligible to receive support from the pantry.

The district estimates that about 120 of its students are homeless, and an even larger number of students and staff financial difficulty.

Since the fall of 2021, SCASD’s goods pantry has sent home over 6,000 pounds of items from the pantry to families in need. Those involved said that because they rely on community partnerships, they can’t do what they do without that support.

“It takes all of us to really be able to support those families and it from in the district and out of the district. We all have to work together to really understand and make sure we are meeting the needs that just only continue to increase,” Cindy Sergeon Smith, a Home and School Visitor with State College, said.

The pantry recently received approximately $2,0000 in fundraising support from the Education Foundation and Mental Health Matters to support the pantry and other district needs.

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Those looking to support the pantry can purchase needed items directly from their Target registry. Those in need of support from the pantry are asked to fill out a Family Needs Assessment and someone from the Family & Community Engagement team will reach out.