A helping hand: Winchester manufacturer and St. Agatha class collect over 3,000 pounds of food

Published 12:06 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2023

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Friday was no ordinary for Carly Klinglesmith and her fourth-grade classmates from Saint Agatha Academy in Winchester.

The parochial school students traveled to the industrial park on the outskirts of town with one thing in mind: stuff their school bus with as much food as possible.

Klinglesmith had contacted Valeo, a local manufacturer of interior switches for different automotive companies, to help with a food drive to benefit the Society of Saint Vincent De Paul.

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“They have an organization where you can give food to the poor,” Klinglesmith said.

The youngster had a simple reason for selecting the organization.

“I just wanted to help out,” she said.

The society is described on Wikipedia as “an international voluntary organization in the Catholic Church, founded in 1833 for the sanctification of its members by personal service of the poor.”

Amy Barnes is a purchasing analyst for Valeo and was Klinglesmith’s contact at the company.

Barnes is also the chair of the company’s employee committee.

The committee organizes team-building activities, communication and things that employees want to see improved within the company. It also manages Valeo’s philanthropic efforts.

“We choose a community outreach project every quarter, and each quarter the employees vote on who they would like to support,” Barnes said.

Valeo’s employees were game to help out Klinglesmith and her classmates

“We turned it into a competition. We took each department and told them that the department that brings in the highest weighing amount of donations would win a lunch,” Barnes said.

During the competition, which lasted for three weeks, Valeo was able to connect 3,700 pounds of food.

The total surprised Klinglesmith.

“I didn’t think it would be this much!” she said.

The winning department was receiving.

“They donated 980 pounds of food,” Barnes said.

Klinglesmith and Barnes were already familiar with one another.

“I had met her previously at Saint Agatha through some different events,” Barnes said.

The fact that Klinglesmith reached out for assistance did not surprise Barnes either.

“Carly is a very, very loving child. She loves to help everybody and is always helping out different people in the community. I worked with her when her mom was the manager of the farmers market…and she was always helpful there. She has always been one to chip in,” Barnes said.