Rusty Rail Food Drive brings in 34,000 items

Sayre High School’s Rusty Rail Food Drive Coordinator Courtney Grunza (left) is pictured alongside Sandy Campbell, Social Service Programs Coordinator for the Salvation Army, as they discussed the delivery of Redskin donations at the Salvation Army on South Elmer Ave. in Sayre.

SAYRE – The recent Rusty Rail Food Drive brought in 34,000 food and drink items to be distributed to individuals and families in need throughout the Valley.

Major Chris Ramirez of the Salvation Army noted the importance of this annual food drive, saying “it provides the majority of the food that we give out at Christmas.”

“Last year we helped 205 families with a Christmas meal, and so the Rusty Rail really is a big part of our Christmas distribution,” Ramirez continued.

Ramirez went on to say that the Salvation Army makes the effort to hold two different distribution events: one for individuals or couples who only need food, and one for families that can also use toys.

Looking at the number of donated items this year, Ramirez said it’s the most they have ever received from the Rusty Rail.

“It was an incredible amount,” said Ramirez. “We’re still sorting it a week later.”

With this year being a return of the fundraiser, after being unable to hold it last year due to the pandemic, Ramirez said “it’s exciting to get back into the habit of doing it and to be able to work with the school systems again.”

Sayre brought in a majority of the total with 26,000, while Athens brought in the remaining 8,000 items.

Sayre High School’s Rusty Rail Food Drive Coordinator, Courtney Grunza, spoke on the importance of having students work together on a project like this one.

“From the student council end — the officers and the other members — they kind of learn the process of setting up a community-wide initiative,” Grunza said. “And then to kind of bring in the aspect of everybody in the community, just being able to learn the important of giving back to those that really need the help.”

Grunza went on to explain some of the fundraising tactics that Sayre has implemented to maximize their donations.

“We always try to focus first within our district and having classroom competitions,” said Grunza. “I know Snyder — the elementary school — really has pumped up their donations in the past couple years because they kind of use it as a whole school competition.”

Grunza concluded by saying she is proud of both school districts for making the food drive a yearly tradition.

“It all benefits a cause that really needs the help,” she said.

Erik Berggren can be reached at or (570) 888-9643 ext. 231. Follow @RealRyanSharp on Twitter.

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