Initially, the group set the bar high at 800 nonperishable food items.
With some uncertainty about whether that much could be collected in a week, they lowered the goal to 200.
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It turns out that their fellow students were up for the challenge.
After the first day of bringing in items to their third period classes, there were more than 200 collected.
By the end of the week, the final tally blew the students away: 1,313.
“There’s really no way to describe it, honestly,” said Jacob Reedy, a senior at Brownstown Central High School who is a part of the Food for Thought project team in Robin Perry’s principles of business management class.
“We lowered our goal because we have seen the school try this before, and it has fallen through,” he said. “Now that we brought up this many cans, it just kind of surprised me. I never thought the school would come together for this many.”
While a pizza party would be awarded to the third period class bringing in the most items, Reedy said he didn’t think that was the sole motivation.
“I think some people actually have it in their heart,” he said of the items that will be donated to Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry in Seymour. “In my third period class, we had a kid get up and give a speech how at one point, (Anchor House) helped him. He went through that.”
That student alone brought in more than 200 nonperishable goods.
“It definitely exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Reedy said. “It brings happiness thinking about how everyone can do this coming together and helping.”
In the future, Reedy said he hopes it inspires students to think of ways they can give, whether it’s to Anchor House or another worthy cause.
“I think it helps them realize that one day, they might need this help,” he said. “So if they give back now, they’ll be able to receive someday because the rule of thumb is always you give and receive, you get what you give.”
Since principles of business management is a new class at the school, Perry said she was looking for curriculum ideas. On a business educators Facebook page, someone told her about Lead2Feed.
Started by David Novak, co-founder and retired chairman and chief executive officer of Yum! Brands, the team-based service learning program fosters teamwork in an effort to help students learn and develop key leadership skills as they take action to solve real-life hunger issues.
Students participate in a student leadership development program adapted from Novak’s book, “Taking People with You.” By challenging students to move toward a solution to world hunger, they are motivated to step up and step out as leaders.
On Tuesdays, Perry’s 21 students went through six lessons about planning, organizing, leading and controlling principles. The class split into two groups and decided on an organization to support.
“I wanted them to plan, lead each other, organize this whole thing and control their costs,” Perry said.
School administration approved each group to spend $50. Perry said she’s going to apply for a grant next year to cover that cost.
“I wanted them to have a budget to manage, as well, so when they spend that money, they have to produce receipts, they have to fill out purchase orders just like we would,” Perry said. “They make their expenses to their budget, and they have the dates and barriers to overcome. We’ve worked really hard on it.”
The Food for Thought group promoted the canned food drive within the school and also traveled to Anchor House to tour the facility, which serves homeless families with children and offers a food pantry for those in need in the community.
“It was neat to see them make that connection that there were little kids living there, so that kind of made them decide that they really wanted to approach this,” Perry said.
The week of the drive, they spent time each day going from classroom to classroom gathering donations.
They used the cans to build a castle on a table in the hallway near the cafeteria.
Senior Tyler Abel said it was great seeing the student body come together to support the project.
“It’s amazing because really, I didn’t think people paid that much attention or cared that much about it, so seeing the people bring in the amount of items they did is incredible,” he said.
The project helped him understand the importance of helping nonprofit organizations.
“A lot of times, any investment they have to have comes out of their personal pocket,” Abel said. “Being able to help by donating cans, it saves them money so they can buy other things.”
For senior Arly Peters, the project was personal.
“I have been there before with my family. We were in need of food, and that’s how we got a little help,” she said of Anchor House.
This was a unique opportunity for her to give back to an organization that helped her.
“I am honestly thankful for what they did for me and my family, so I am actually willing to take a part of my money that I’m working for and giving them that,” she said.
Fellow senior Lauren Pauley said she was glad to be a part of the project, too.
“It really just shows how the school can just come together and really help us out,” she said. “It makes me feel good that I’m able to help other people.”
Karla Rieckers’ third period class brought in the most canned goods (542), so the students will soon have a pizza party.
The other group in the class is raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit charity and veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of military actions free of charge.
On Oct. 31 outside the school, there will be a greased pig contest, and students and staff members can pay to participate. Others can watch by providing a freewill donation.
Perry said it has been great seeing the students put in all of the work to make both projects successful.
“I like to just step back and watch them kind of struggle for just a little bit, and then they figure it out,” she said. “Sometimes, they’ll ask me a question, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know. What are you going to do?’ and they figure it out. It’s awesome to see them do that.”