Student council members at Westwood Middle School worked with the student body and staff members to help relieve hunger.
The students in a competitive effort pitted homeroom against homeroom, or as the Panthers (their school team’s name) call it, pride against pride, to collect nonperishable food and cash throughout the month of January.
They ended up raising 208 pounds of food. Donations went to Southern Anoka Community Assistance Food Shelf.
They also raised $143 in cash donations for the cause.
Student council members involved in organizing and running the annual food drive effort were sixth-graders Delaney Herman, Hwang Yoo-Jin, Ben Putnam and Kelsey Williams; seventh-graders Myah Ashley-Staple, Isaadina George, Rachel Kraber and Kallie Ward and eighth-graders Laila Bensaad-Johnson, Rafay Hasan, Graisen Pearson and Chelsea Young.
“The students take a lot of pride in collecting the food, filling the boxes and loading the truck,” said Mary Mohr-Scinocca, student council adviser. “It is a concrete demonstration of what they can accomplish for others.”
Chelsea Young, an eighth-grade student council member, helped load the food last week onto the SACA truck for delivery to the food shelf.
“I didn’t think we’d get a lot of support at first,” Chelsea said. “But I was really surprised. I learned to put a lot of trust in kids I’m around everyday and seeing that they’re capable of doing so much more than anybody would think they could do.”
Fellow council member Myah Ashley-Staple, a seventh-grader, also helped load the truck.
“The best part (of the food drive) was knowing that you have put food on someone’s table…,” she said.
“And knowing I can make a difference even at 14,” Chelsea said.
Showing other kids
SACA welcomed Westwood’s donations, especially in March during Minnesota FoodShare’s largest campaign where every dollar collected goes to local food shelves to fight hunger. Minnesota FoodShare recruits thousands of interfaith congregations, companies, schools and community groups to run local fund and food drives to aid in the effort, according to the Minnesota FoodShare website .
“It’s really good when you get kids involved,” said Dave Rudolph of SACA, who along with fellow worker Shawn Johnson picked up the food at the school. “It gives them a sense of accomplishment.”
Said Johnson about Westwood’s food drive: “I think it’s awesome that they’re out there helping. It shows other kids it can be done.”
Johnson attended Westwood in the late 1980s, when the school was a seventh- and eighth-grade facility. The school now houses sixth- through eighth-grade classes.
SACA food shelf serves about 35 families a day from one person to families of 10, according to Rudolph.
SACA food shelf and clothing closet serves residents in Columbia Heights, Fridley and Spring Lake Park.
Elyse Kaner is at firstname.lastname@example.org