Weekly Feature

2015-12-31 / Education

Teacher inspires students to give back

Joe Cantafio, a social studies teacher at West Seneca West Senior, began to wonder what happened to loose change back in 2009 and decided to pass an empty coffee container around his classroom.

The idea was for students to put their loose change into the jar and Cantafio would donate it to the West Seneca Lions Club, of which he is a member, to help with the donation of Christmas dinners to needy families. Meals are delivered each year the Sunday before Christmas.

The money Cantafio’s classes donated would go toward perishable foods provided to less fortunate families.

“People have hearts,” Cantafio said. “I tell my students to be proud when they sit down for dinner each Christmas to know how many families they helped do the same.”

It costs approximately $30 to purchase perishable foods for each family to receive, Cantafio said, on top of the canned goods collected. Cantafio said he didn’t think the change would amount to much in his first year but knew it would help no matter the amount.

To his surprise, his students raised almost $382, allowing 12 families to enjoy a Christmas dinner that year.

This year, his classes collected around $350. Upon hearing about the collection, John Morrison, president and CEO of Financial Trust Federal Credit Union, said the credit union would match this year’s donation, bringing the 2015 total to $700.

“Knowing kids give from their pocket to support families is a win-win,” Morrison said. “It’s great community involvement across the board.”

Since 2009, Cantafio’s students at West Senior have raised $3,433.13, sponsoring 114 Christmas dinners.

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