North Country students collect food, money to help community

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) Seventh-graders at Beekmantown Middle School were set up and ready to host a second 5K run to raise money for North Country Honor Flight after last year's was so successful. But the coronavirus canceled that run. The students-- still hoping to make a difference-- quickly shifted their plans, finding another way to give back to their community. Our Kelly O'Brien shows you.

Just about a ton of food and more than $1,000 in donations came to the United Way of the Adirondacks Tuesday morning, to give back to those who need it.

"This is an extraordinary effort today," said John Bernardi of the United Way of the Adirondacks.

Box after box piled in after a weekend dedicated to collecting food and personal hygiene items for the underserved.

"Will go to food shelves across the region that have the most need right now," Bernardi said.

The donation drive dubbed the "Honor Drive" was put together by seventh-graders at Beekmantown Middle School.

"They wanted to collect food for people who needed it and honor the veterans," said Bill Duffany of Beekmantown Middle School.

The students teamed up with United Way, the North County Honor Flight and local fire departments.

After the pandemic put a stop to their original plans to help the Honor Flight, they used this opportunity to raise the money they would have made.

"We had no idea about the donations coming in," said Barrie Finnegan of North Country Honor Flight.

For the nonprofit that takes veterans to Washington, D.C., to see monuments, the wheels remain down during the pandemic. But organizers are hopeful they can take off once again this fall.

"Each veteran has earned and deserves this trip and it's a day of a lifetime. Many of them come back and tell us it's the best day of their life," Finnegan said.

The District 3 Fire Department alone collected more than $1,000 for the flight.

"The community is rising together and coming together to help other people. It's tremendous the amount of people outpouring to help other people," said Keith Johnson of the District 3 Fire Department.

This drive is one of many selfless acts by the community helping those who need it most, but more importantly, these selfless acts act as life lessons for the leaders of tomorrow.

"You can have an idea to help out and the idea can actually turn into action and there can be a powerful result like I think there was today," Duffany said.