Merrimack elementary students walk for St. James Food Pantry

Staff photo by Grace Pecci Those who participated in the Monday Harvest 3k Walk/Run ran six laps around the field. Participants dropped straws into a bucket to signify their current lap.

MERRIMACK – James Mastricola Upper Elementary School students expended some energy for a good cause on Monday by participating in the eighth annual Harvest 3k Walk/Run to benefit the St. James Food Pantry.

About 80 students participated, while some parents ran alongside their children. The event kicked off at 3:30 p.m. on the school’s playground. Student’s registered to get a race number.

The distance, roughly 1.86 miles, is equivalent to six laps around James Mastricola’s playground. Students received five straws to drop in a bucket to signify how many laps they had left. The first student finished just short of 12 minutes.

District Wellness Coordinator Rick Greenier said this event began in 2010 as a fundraiser for table equipment. For three years, they raised enough money for two tables a year.

“In 2014, recognizing a need to help our local food bank, we started collecting food for the St. James food pantry, instead, and have done so ever since,” Greenier said.

The race, which previously took place on Saturday mornings, was switched to a Monday so members of the school’s running club, Jogging Jaguars, could participate. The team, which is supervised by fifth-grade teacher Laraine Fay, normally meets on Mondays. Fay said there are about 95 kids in the club.

Students and parents were able to drop off non-perishable food items and donate at the the same tents in which registration took place. The amount of money raised will be counted at a later time. A large bin of non-perishable food items was collected.

The St. James Food Pantry assists Merrimack residents and members of St. James who are experiencing financial difficulties.

“We currently are providing fresh and non-perishable foods and cleaning products to approximately 40 families,” the pantry’s website states.

Those who are interested in donating or know someone who needs assistance can contact the Rev. Sharon Lovejoy or Donna Johnson at 603-546-8379.