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Needy families -- and needy pets -- were not forgotten this holiday season by elementary school pupils at Silver Creek Central School.

The children collected socks, empty pop containers and non-perishable foods for people and pets and brought them to their classrooms.

On Thursday, two school busloads filled with children and a truck filled with boxes of food made a stop at the Silver Creek Food Pantry, just in time for the pantry's Christmas basket distribution today. The children in grades one to five were represented by two members of each class for a total of approximately 70 pupils.

"The kids came in with all of this food and they were so cute," said Ann Gorndt, food pantry manager. "God love them."

One class collected more than 250 items, and the total collection was enough to fill a pickup truck.

"It was nice because the kids had the chance to see where the food goes on the racks and where they make up the food baskets," said Donna Metzger, elementary school administrative assistant. Elementary Principal Lynne Gowan said many of the children were surprised to learn that families in Silver Creek needed the food.

"Many of them said it was so sad that people had to go there," said Ms. Gowan.

Students also continued a holiday tradition started last year, by filling the "giving tree" in the school lobby with socks for local needy families. Deposits from a pop can drive, which continues until Jan. 30, are being used to benefit the family of an Irving second grader left homeless by a fire.

"The amount of cans we are receiving is just amazing," Ms. Gowan said. "I'm really pleased to see the children get into the spirit of helping each other."

While the children in first through fifth grade were at the food pantry, several kindergartners, accompanied by Ms. Gowan, headed off to the SPCA shelter on Pontiac Road in Angola.

The "homeless" animals received their own baskets of holiday cheer: cans and bags of pet food and treats.

"We were talking to the kids about bringing canned goods in for families and one of the kids said, 'What if they have pets?' " Ms. Gowan said. "I thought this was a really great idea and so we decided on the SPCA in Angola. We had everything, bags of food and boxes of doggie treats. The SPCA really appreciated it and they were very gracious. They took the kids on a tour and they even got to pet the puppies and kittens."

Ms. Gowan said the SPCA trip was good for the younger kids because it was "something they can relate to better."

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