Clemmons Elementary food drive captures hearts, minds and clicks

Published 12:10 am Thursday, February 22, 2024

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CLEMMONS — A Tik-Tok video of a cereal-box domino train has now reached more than 30 million views, and those in the Clemmons area likely recognize the backdrop — Clemmons Elementary School.

On Friday, Clemmons Elementary students lined the hallways of the school to watch as 2,777 cereal boxes fell their way through the building, weaving around corners and eventually culminating in a grand domino finale in the school’s gymnasium.

Behind the showcase were several dedicated PTA members, Clemmons Elementary students and staff and a goal to help the Clemmons Food Pantry’s mission of serving the underserved in the community.

Fara O’Byrne, a parent and PTA member at Clemmons Elementary School, got the idea from an educator friend.

“My best friend did it at her school in Myrtle Beach, (South Carolina),” O’Byrne said. “I watched the video, and I was so jealous, mostly because of the screaming children in the hallway. I cried watching the video and said that we will do that at Clemmons Elementary.”

Clemmons Food Pantry proved a natural partner for the event.

“For sure, why not? They are our friends. They are local,” O’Byrne said.

The school in Myrtle Beach collected 1,300 boxes.

“I knew that we needed somewhere around 1,300,” O’Byrne said. “So, I made the goal 2,000 just hoping that it was going to happen (and) said the winning class would get an ice cream party.”

What ended up happening surprised O’Byrne and everyone else involved.

“Every day, there were 200 boxes, 300 boxes,” O’Byrne said. “There were 1,000 boxes each week and so many at the end (to get to) 2,777.”

With such effort on display from the participating classroom, O’Byrne said they decided to give the winning class some sort of special sundae, but every single student in the school is having an ice cream party.

“This is how you come together and show community,” O’Byrne said. “This is what it’s all about. It’s incredible.”

O’Byrne mentioned that the students were excited about contributing to the cause.

“Sometimes when you do a fundraiser, (the students) don’t really know what’s going on, but this time, they knew and setting up today, everyone was like, ‘Oh my gosh. It’s literally going down. It’s going to be awesome.'”

While the event represented the collective efforts of many parties, O’Byrne said it could not have been done without two PTA members.

“Katie Hick and Bethany Hooker were here every day, counting cereal boxes,” O’Byrne said. “I don’t think they want to eat cereal for a very long time.”

O’Byrne did not have much experience with dominos, but she learned a lot from her friend’s efforts.

“My friend’s video was the only thing I needed to set up the dominos,” O” Byrne said. “I did call her and said, ‘What is an inside tip?’ She said, ‘Don’t space the boxes too far apart. Keep them together so that they will fall.'”

That advice proved helpful.

“There was not a single hitch the entire time,” O’Byrne said. “It was incredible.”