LEWISBURG — Abby Gulden-Luthi, Lewisburg Elementary Parent School Association president, has been volunteering with the PSA for about five years.

She explained that augmenting the work done by professional educators brings forth the best from her volunteer peers.

“The Lewisburg Elementary PSA is a group of motivated and dedicated volunteers,” Gulden-Luthi said. “It is most often family members of a student involved in a school or the district.”

The PSA fosters good communications, she added, and is meant to be a liaison between schools and parents. Fundraising and volunteer opportunities were also noteworthy with programs and initiatives receiving the benefits.

“Our main fundraiser is the Dragon Dash,” said Gulden-Luthi, referring to the annual “races” at Kelly Elementary and Linntown Intermediate schools. “But we do a number of other things through the year, including restaurant fundraising nights. We participate in Raise the Region and do the food drive for the Snack Pack program.”

An annual picnic for incoming kindergarten students and their families is another PSA event. It is done in collaboration with the Green Dragon Foundation.

Gulden-Luthi noted her tenure as president was for three years. She decided the Snack Pack program would not only be a worthwhile focus of her efforts but also one which filled a distinct need.

“We have around 30% free-or-reduced lunch (recipients) in our district,” Gulden-Luthi said. “That is a number that a lot of of people are not aware of. They don’t think of the Lewisburg Area School District as a district that has a large free-or-reduced population.”

The 30% free-or-reduced level puts the district in a bind, she added. It is high enough that the increased need is evident, but it is too low for the state to give free lunches across-the-board.

“A number of our other surrounding communities are over that threshold,” Gulden-Luthi said. “So they get free lunch for everyone, but we are not there.”

As that number grows, Gulden-Luthi was determined to help grow awareness of food insecurity. The Snack Pack program would help address the problem by supplying nutritious food to students.

Gulden-Luthi said expansion of the Snack Pack program was also under consideration.

“The Snack Pack program is a collaboration with the Bucknell University Office of Civic Engagement,” she said. “(They) usually do all the packing for the Snack Pack program. They do that under the supervision of an AmeriCorps worker.”

When Bucknell students are not in session, the PSA steps up to get community members to pack the Snack Packs. Those sessions can include Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and PSA coordinators.

Gulden-Luthi said the Snack Pack program is currently packing once per month. Their most recent packing also included packs for the Donald H. Eichhorn Middle School for the first time.

“We packed for 136 free-or-reduced students at Kelly, 91 free-or-reduced students at Linntown and 124 free-or-reduced students at the middle school,” Gulden-Luthi said. “That’s 351 total students we packed for.”

The results of the recent weekend packing were distributed on the first Friday of the school year.

Gulden-Luthi noted the support of volunteer peers, among PSA officers and coordinators. Officers included Patricia Case (president elect), Corey Jusko (past president), Sarah Ryu (treasurer) and Sandra Cook (secretary).

Coordinators included Jusko (Kelly Book Fair), Eustacia Muir and Ryu (Linntown Book Fair), Melissa Widerquist (K-1 coordinator, Kelly and Linntown arts and enrichment), Sarah Combs (2-3 coordinator) and Amy Azeredo (4-5 coordinator).

Kristin Krauss (fundraising), Gretchen Driver (Linntown box tops), Erica Gemini (Kelly box tops), Megan Schumacher (Spirit Wear), Meghan Dwyer and Cook (Running Club), Monique Alexander (Kelly Yearbook), Nicole Bailey (Linntown Yearbook), Molly Gorby (website) and Tali MacArthur were also among the coordinators.

Staff writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at matt@standard-journal.com.

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