Native Sun and Montessori Tides School to feed local USO families

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Native Sun Natural Foods Market in Jacksonville Beach will host Montessori Tides School’s elementary students on Wednesday, Dec. 12, for its 17th annual shopping event benefitting the United Services Organizations (USO). 

Twenty-one third- through sixth-grade students will plan and shop the aisles for meals to feed more than 140 families through the local USO Mayport Center. 

The students will arrive at the Native Sun Jacksonville Beach location early Wednesday morning with shopping lists in hand. Through donations from Montessori Tides families and Native Sun, the students and their teachers will plan balanced meals while keeping a close eye on each dollar spent. 

“Community service is one of our most enjoyable activities, and it contributes to the education of the whole child,” said Jessica Spurlock, who leads the Upper Elementary class. “We are so grateful to our school community and Native Sun for giving us this huge opportunity to give back to our military families.” 

Each year, the Greater Jacksonville Area USO provides support for more than 250,000 local active-duty military, including Army and Air National Guardsmen and Reserves, and their immediate families. The USO provides services, information and recreation for families who need it. 

The annual event began in 2001 when then 8-year-old Dawson Pickett, a Montessori Tides School student, saw a sign for a food drive at the USO Mayport Center. Now 17 years later, the event has evolved into a partnership with Native Sun. 

“It is so heart-warming to watch the students select each ingredient with care for the families who will receive them,” Native Sun Customer Programs Manager Meghan Fiveash said. “We are pleased to help provide healthy food options to the USO families in our community.” 

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