Students learn skills while helping food pantry

Shawn Hardy
Paraprofessional Matt Smith, front, gets the assembly line started as Kristy Horst’s students from James Buchanan High School unload a skid of food at The Storehouse Community’s food pantry. For video, visit

Kristy Horst’s students are living proof of the saying “many hands make light work.”

Once a month during the school year, the James Buchanan high-schoolers lend their hands to the food pantry at The Storehouse Community. On Tuesday, they helped unload, sort, organize and shelve nearly 8,000 pounds of food at the church at 3845 Buchanan Trail West, Greencastle, in preparation for the monthly distribution on Wednesday.

Three days a week the students learn vocational skills at places like the food pantry, Mercersburg Academy and Target. They also work around their own school, doing things like recycling and cleaning the pool.

Teamwork was evident as they ferried boxes of food up the steps from skids delivered by the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, with prompts from Horst like “Coffee’s light, put it here” and “Cherries need to go in the cart to go to the freezer.”

“Open box” warned one as they carefully handed off a carton that came apart on the skid.

“Their work ethic is amazing,” said Horst. “They work as a team, they’re independent and they’re good at asking questions. They light up when they’re told they do a good job and they are always willing to help others. They have big hearts and helping hands.”

They’ve opened their big hearts to people like school social worker Rebecca Rock, who lost her son Weston, 2, to cancer in 2016. When the students heard she was going to bake cupcakes for the benefit of sick children, Horst’s students said, “We’ll bake them.”

They knew Gunnar Downie, who has a tumor on his brain stem, loves superheroes. When Make-A-Wish gave the youngster a shopping spree at Target, where his mother works, the students made him a superhero blanket, pillow and cards.

At the food pantry

“We can’t do it without them,” said Connie Lazich, volunteer food pantry coordinator. Tuesday was the last visit from Horst’s students until the next school year so she is hoping local teachers, kids from the church and other volunteers will step forward this summer.

The food pantry is open from noon to 4 p.m. one Wednesday a month, and people start waiting in the parking lot before 9 a.m. The pantry serves about 100 families or around 300 people from the Greencastle-Antrim and Tuscarora school districts, with no questions about income or circumstances.

“Someone could have lost their job last week,” said Pete Lazich, who works alongside his wife and other volunteers at the food pantry that opened about two years ago.

On Tuesday, he helped oversee a delivery that included 600 pounds of frozen chicken leg quarters, 300 pounds of meat, 228 quarts of milk, 100 pounds of cabbage, 500 pounds of potatoes and 450 pounds of apples. The selection of nonperishables ranged from rice to taco shells and cereal to cranberry juice.

The church purchases most of the food from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, but donations also come from gleaners who scour local fields and orchards after the harvest, as well as some unusual sources.

Last New Year’s Eve, the Laziches got a call at home from a trucker who said, “I have meat.”

Because it was New Year’s Eve, there was no one to unload it at the original destination so the food pantry ended up with over $5,000 worth of beef.

Surprises like that one aside, Pete Lazich said he is speaking for all food pantries, senior centers and programs like Meals on Wheels.

“We need help, we need money. We’re looking for volunteers and donations,” he said.

Anyone interested in helping can call Connie and Pete Lazich at 717-597-8242 or visit