Trinity Lutheran Church celebrated Jack and Jill Preschool's donation of food to the church food pantry and then honored the teacher, Shelly Zellner, for 20 years of service to the school.
The church service, held Sunday, began with preschool students carrying food items in their hands, in miniature shopping carts and wagons to transport the food items up the church aisle where it was accepted by Carolyn Long, director of the Lehighton Trinity Food Pantry.
"Thank you," said Long. "This is wonderful kids. This food will go to help other children who do not have food."
Long said that children had collected 356 pounds of food.
Near the end of the service, Zellner was called to the front of the church for a surprise recognition when Kathy Henderson, Jack and Jill Pre-School board president, honored Zellner for her dedication to the school.
"We are here today to thank Shelly for her dedication and love of teaching our children," said Henderson. "I've known Shelly for more years than we both care to remember."
Henderson said that Zellner has been shaping young lives for the past 20 years.
"Some of her students have gone on to attend college from Lehigh Carbon Community College to Penn State with majors ranging from psychology to mechanical engineering to HCACC to history and political science," said Henderson. "It's truly amazing to me to imagine what the children you are teaching today will become."
Henderson continued, "Thank you from the bottom of my heart."
As part of the celebration, a scrapbook compiled by parents of students was presented to Zellner, along with other gifts.
Eliza Andrew, one of her students said, "You've given us your time. You've opened up your heart and taught us all the skills we need to make a brand new start."
Austin Greene, another student said, "Your smile brightens our day. Your giggle makes us laugh. Because of all you've taught us we're walking on the right path."
Andrew continued, "There are no word to thank you for all your warmth and love. Our way of giving back to you comes in a very special hug."
Both children then gave Zellner a hug of appreciation.
Jack and Jill Preschool, 230 Iron St., Lehighton, opened in 1978 as an outreach of the Trinity Lutheran Church. Zellner is the preschool director and teacher and Jane Kunkle is the primary class teacher. Karen Bizup is a teacher's aide.