Local youth set up Superstorm Sandy relief food drive

With Superstorm Sandy recently taking lives and homes when it recently hit the East Coast, a Wapakoneta Middle School student has been doing all she can — she even got her classmates involved.

Aliya Patterson, 11, organized a school-wide food drive, with students bringing in canned good food items and non-perishable goods to school to donate to Hurricane Sandy efforts.

Aliya, who is a member of Teens for Christ Ministries, was at a youth group meeting two weeks ago when the idea hit her.

“We were talking about how we need to work together to show God’s love,” the Wapakoneta Middle School sixth-grader said, “and how we need to take extra steps to help others.”

Aliya said her youth group prayed about how to work together to show God’s love, and one person in her group wanted to make a prayer request for Hurricane Sandy, or Superstorm Sandy victims.

“I felt I needed, in some way, to help those people,” Aliya said.

So she came up with the idea to host a food drive at the Wapakoneta Middle School with students in each homeroom working as a team to bring in items, and the homeroom who brought in the most items will have a pizza party.

To set up the food drive, the daughter of Brandye and Shane Patterson first went to Wapakoneta Middle School Guidance Counselor Mark Koch, who thought it was an excellent idea. Guidance Counselor Kristi Fisher also climbed on board and decided to help with developing the idea.

Next Aliya got in contact with ISOH Impact, an agency that would transport the items to Superstorm Sandy victims.

Officials with the company, which is out of Waterville, said they would be unable to pick up the items, because it was out of their distance to travel, as they will only travel 60 miles from their office, and the distance from Wapakoneta to Waterville is 102 miles.

“Mrs. (Marti) Eaton, who is the librarian, suggested I call Stahler Trucking, in Wapakoneta, and I did and they said they would donate a truck,” Aliya said.

So Doug Stahler, of Stahler Trucking, picked up all of the food items that were donated at the Wapakoneta Middle School on Friday and took the shipment to ISOH Impact.

“Everyone really helped out, and it all came together,” Aliya said.

Aliya said one of her biggest supporters was her best friend, Alison Niemeyer.

“She been so much help, with asking what I needed,” Aliya said.

Alison was glad she could be there for her friend.

“I am very proud of her because she started it,” Alison said. “I think this is really cool.”

Another Wapakoneta Middle School student, Ryan Carrico, also helped with the food drive to help Hurricane Sandy victims. He also helped Aliya and Alison load up the non-perishable items on a Stahler Trucking truck on Friday at the school.

Many students at the school have approached Aliya and asked her about this food drive, and Aliya said the students have really taken interest in this project.

Approximately 833 non-perishable items were collected at the Wapakoneta Middle School for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

But this is not the first time Aliya has taken an idea into action, as she started a bully-free program at her previous school at St. Marys Elementary School.

“I started a bully free program and we did videos on the announcements and talked to numerous homerooms on bullying, and the effects of it,” Aliya said.

Aliya and a couple of her friends started this program when they were in the fourth-grade, and began the process with talking with the guidance counselor, who loved the idea.

“It’s gone on to be so much more,” Aliya said of the program today.

In the future, Aliya wants to attend college in Switzerland and study about the ministries.

She said she read a book that influenced her to do this, as the main character traveled to Switzerland and studied ministry and participated in many mission trips.

“I want to learn about ministries and preach the gospel,” Aliya said.

Aliya’s passion is following the Lord, and one day she wants to speak the gospel to people in other countries, to help build homes and to help those in need through missionary work.

“I love to help people,” Aliya said. “It makes me feel good about what I’ve done.”