Students at Rush City High School and neighboring Jacobson Elementary helped stock local food shelves through a food drive full of enthusiasm.
As part of the North Branch County Market’s Stuff-A-Truck effort, the food drive was embraced by the high school student council members. They turned it into a competition among the classes on who could raise the most nonperishable food items by pound per student.
When it was all said and done, students and staff responded with fine collections — Jacobson raised 1,700 pounds; RCHS, 2,300 pounds — and much satisfaction over helping local people in need throughout a week and a day before Thanksgiving.
“It was exciting,” said RCHS student Alissa Mell, a member of the student council. “I got pulled out of fifth hour to go to the store for food.”
“It was fun,” added fellow student councilor Taylor Youngblom, recalling all the grocery carts that were filled and the kids who kept asking what classes had won. “It got really competitive.”
The top three classes were awarded donuts from County Market. The winners included social studies teacher Grant Nicoll’s class of 30 students, who generated 844 pounds of food including 70 2-liters of soda; the media center and its seven students with 312 pounds; and teacher LeeAnn Anderson’s Spanish class, which raised 367 pounds.
“The last day people went crazy with pop and the heavy stuff,” Youngblom said.
Collected items ranged from a variety of nonperishable foods, bleach, laundry detergent and bottles of water, Mell noted.
The food drive began to take off on a Friday morning when Nicoll went to the store during his lunch hour to get more items. He had other staff helping out, too. Anderson, meanwhile, sent pictures of the food her class collected to Nicoll.
“Word spread throughout the week, and the kids started calculating and competing to get the most,” RCHS teacher and student council adviser Erika Matzke said. “If it gets kids excited and to think of others, all the better, and it didn’t take away from the academic school day.”
The student council is now planning a hat and mitten drive for younger children prior to Christmas, as the food drive event seemed to strike a chord with these student leaders who are finding the true rewards in giving back to the community.
“This is a great experience for the students who are organizing these events,” Matzke said. “They can give back and still handle the day-to-day responsibilities of life. There’s not always rewards, either. It’s the satisfaction of doing something great for others. This is a way of investing back in the community.
“The seed has been planted,” she added.