Students from LLT Academy South Bay recently collected food for ECHO.

Those in need throughout the SouthShore area have a group of students to thank this month. A team of four from LLT Academy’s South Bay location enlisted friends and neighbors to collect donations for local food bank ECHO and the drive was so successful that the students collected more food than any other local drive.

“The students in Ms. Tina Wood’s leadership class asked if they could do a food drive as they knew the food pantries that help people were really empty due COVID and so many people being out of work,” said Lesley Logan, the school’s principal. “It was started by a student action team of four who enlisted 15 students total, forming an Owls Care team.”

According to Logan, the students worked for two weeks advertising, promoting, picking up donations, counting and sorting.

LLT Academy is an independent charter school founded by Logan and the school’s governing board based on the successful Tampa location. The school opened this year and currently has 538 students, K-6, and will add seventh grade in the next school year with eighth grade in the following year.

“It was a challenge to open a brand-new school in the midst of COVID, but with a passionate and committed staff, we have met the challenge wonderfully,” said Logan, who explained that veteran teachers from the Tampa campus moved to the new location in order to replicate the culture from the start.

Logan credits the school’s focus on leadership with teaching the students about giving to others.

“We are very proud of our students for taking the time to think of others while navigating this unprecedented time in their own lives,” she said. “It was totally student-led. To collect more food than any other entity in the area was quite an achievement and surprised ECHO. They had to return with more trucks to pick up the food.”

Students are planning to run a toy drive for A Kid’s Place in December.

“As a leadership school, we have a strong philosophy of teaching our students to give back to their community. Therefore, we support many nonprofits, even though we are also a nonprofit,” said Logan.

To learn more about the school and its lottery admissions system, visit LLTAcademy.com or call 234-0940.

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Kate Quesada is the Multimedia Manager for the Osprey Observer Newspapers. She has been working for the paper in various positions since 2005 when she graduated with her Masters degree in mass communications. She lives in Valrico with her husband Mike and son Dylan.