"When pigs dance" may not have been how the challenge started, but it's definitely the way it ended.

Students at Faith Training Christian Academy spent part of the last day of school before Thanksgiving break no doubt being thankful they weren't the principal or the coach, who had to kiss a chicken and dance with a pig respectively since the students more than met a challenge to gather food items for the Leesville Area Ministerial Alliance's food pantry.


"When pigs dance" may not have been how the challenge started, but it's definitely the way it ended.
Students at Faith Training Christian Academy spent part of the last day of school before Thanksgiving break no doubt being thankful they weren't the principal or the coach, who had to kiss a chicken and dance with a pig respectively since the students more than met a challenge to gather food items for the Leesville Area Ministerial Alliance's food pantry.
After parent Lizzie Shepherd became aware of the almost bare condition of the pantry at the United Methodist Church, she called FTCA Elementary Principal Johnnie Santos to see if the students and their families could help.
"Not a can of food was left in the pantry to be distributed," said Shepherd. "Now we're literally floor to ceiling and have even opened a secondary storage area. It's all because of these kids. They took the goal and blew it out of the water."
Santos had promised the children that if they would bring in 2,000 items, she would kiss a chicken. That goal was met within three days, so a new challenge was issued: Coach Portz would dance with a pig if the kids brought in a total of 2,500 items.
All in all, the students collected 7,500 items during the food drive, which took place over three weeks.
Donna Stolfi, FTCA nurse and owner of Cinnamon, the chicken who graced Friday's event, shone the spotlight on Shepherd for the accomplishment.
"God gave her a vision, and she ran with it," Stolfi said.
Hank Hamilton, president of LAMA and pastor of the United Methodist Church, recognized the teachers, parents and students who took part in the food drive and likened it to the story in the Bible from Mark 6:41 when Jesus fed the 5,000.
"Because of you, there will be more tummies filled, and I think that's something we can praise God for," he told those gathered in the gym for the occasion.
The 7,500 items translates into 250 families receiving help with food or a dozen car loads of food. Aurora Wells' second grade class contributed the most food and was rewarded with being able to wear their favorite sports jerseys to school on Friday.
To get everyone in the true chicken-kissing and pig-dancing spirit, second grade teacher Ursula Sellers led the audience in the chicken dance.
As promised, Santos, who said she'd put on her "chicken-kissing lipstick" for the occasion, laid one on Cinammon, who seemed to bear up under the pressure well, as the children screamed in delight.
The pig was not nearly so accommodating. Dressed in a purple tu-tu, to go with her partner's black bow-tie, she protested loudly as Portz took her in his arms for a spin around the gym floor. Her squeals of protest eventually subsided into grunts of dizziness.    
The children also received small tokens of appreciation, goodie bags filled with a sweet roll and Swedish fish candies, as well as the scripture Mark 6:41 to draw attention to the parallels the children's actions had with Jesus' miracle.
"Walmart donated all the rolls and LAMA footed the bill for the Swedish fish, which both served as great symbols for the excellent job the students at Faith did with their food drive," said Shepherd.
LAMA is still accepting donations for the upcoming holdiay season. Funds to purchase supplies, such as beans, rice, sugar, salt, corn meal and meat are still necessary, said Hamilton.
"LAMA could not attempt this program without your prayers and your financial support," he said. "With this year's economy, the needs couldn't be higher."
Money can be sent to Leesville Area Ministerial Alliance (LAMA), P.O. Box 848, Leesville, La. 71496.
LAMA is also in need of physical assistance beginning the week of Dec. 12-15 to help sort food and toys, especially on Wed. Dec. 14.
"This would be a great way to show your compassion and celebrate the Spirit of Christmas," said Hamilton. "Come help us put Matthew 25 on its feet!"
If anyone needs help with food they should come to L.A.M.A. Food Pantry located at the side entrance of First United Methodist Church facing North St. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9-2. Call 239-3828 for more information.