Panthers plan to ‘Change Lives’ through Arvest hunger relief campaign

Students throughout the Yellville-Summit School District will hold a week-long change drive called "Panthers Change Lives" to raise money in support of the district's Food for Thought Backpack Program. Through backpack programs, children who face food insecurity are sent home with backpacks full of snacks on weekends and holidays, times when they don't have access to school meal programs.The Panthers Change Lives campaign takes place Monday through Friday and encourages students to collect spare change from family members, neighbors and the community, as part of a friendly competition to see which grades in kindergarten through sixth and seventh through 12th can collect the most change.Students in the lower and upper school grades who collected the most change receive an afternoon at the city park. Arvest Bank employees will grill hamburgers at the school and serve lunch to all of the students and staff.

Liz Leatherman, elementary school counselor and program coordinator for the Yellville-Summit Food for Thought Backpack Program says the students look forward to this week every year because they know how much it benefits their classmates dealing with food insecurity, so they work hard to make the drive a success.

Leatherman says the student have a heart for service, and they also happen to enjoy some friendly competition, so it's fun either way.

Last year, students collected more than $4,350 during Panthers Change Lives, making their total contributions to the backpack program since 2013 more than $17,350.

Every day of Panthers Change Lives Week is filled with a different activity for students. The campaign kicks off with an orange bracelet for everyone who wants to participate, to remind them to collect donations from family and neighbors. The change drive begins with a "surprise arrival" of some sort. Other weekly events include a day where students dress from head to toe in panther orange, photo booths, a day to "eat orange" in the cafeteria, face painting and more.

The donation drive is one of many events taking place in North Central Arkansas during the next two months supporting Arvest Bank's annual Million Meals campaign, an initiative encouraging communities to collect food and monetary donations for local hunger relief organizations and programs. Local donations made to the Million Meals campaign will benefit the Food Bank of North Central Arkansas.

North Central Arkansas residents who would like to participate in Arvest Bank's Million Meals campaign can drop off non-perishable food items or make monetary donations at any Arvest Bank location, or by calling (866) 952-9523.

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