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Hometown Hero gets Hardee's All-Star award for Howland food pantry

Gina Camelli started Paw Pantry for Howland students struggling with poverty

HOWLAND, Ohio (WYTV) - Howland High School teacher Gina Camelli has received the All-Star award from Hardee's restaurant.

The burger chain is giving Camelli a $10,000 grant to put toward her Paw Pantry. She is one of five winners in the country.

"It's a good thing I was sitting down because I did not expect $10,000 and this national honor, and I'm very thrilled for Howland schools," Camelli said.

33 WYTV News gave her the Hometown Hero award last month, which is how Hardee's found out about the work she's done.

Hardee's' new program celebrates community members for giving back.

Camelli started Paw Pantry in the fall of 2017 for kids who are struggling with poverty. She said since she went to school at Howland, poverty has gone up from about 6 to 40 percent.

"It's been nothing but support. It started here at the high school just by word of mouth. I was asking my colleagues to bring in the small items that they get from traveling in hotels and I was making "showers in a bag" and then it just went on from there and progressed from there," Camelli said.

Not only does the pantry have plenty of food options, but there are also clothing items, lunch boxes, backpacks and school supplies available.

"I'd like to expand the food-giving portion into perishable foods and providing crock pots and crock pot meals and also I want to buy a new stove so that I could teach the kids how to cook and maybe give them some cooking classes," Camelli said.

If you want to help out with Paw Pantry, there are several items they always need.

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