Shaler Area meets annual challenge to help those in need with collections

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 10:11 p.m.

What started as a friendly wager between competing Super Bowl team fans three years ago has turned into an annual initiative to help those in need.

Shaler Area Elementary School hosted the third annual “Souper Bowl” challenge to collect nonperishable items to donate to the North Hills Community Outreach Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry.

The Shaler Area School District and other schools throughout the Allegheny Intermediate Unit challenged Green Bay's Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA 7) to collect the most canned goods when the Steelers and Packers faced off in Super Bowl XLV in 2011.

After Shaler Area Elementary School students and staff saw the impact their one school could make by collecting more than 1,100 items, they decided to make it an annual project in their school.

For the two weeks prior to the Super Bowl game, students and teachers brought in a mountain of items to donate.

Fourth-grader Trenton Wooster said he collected so many items he needed an extra hand to get them to the school.

“My parents are going to bring it in (because) I have two full boxes,” Trenton said. “I wanted to help, and I didn't know where to give it to (until now).”

Kyle Gorsuch, a fourth-grader, said he didn't give donating a second thought when he received the Souper Bowl challenge flier with the items needed at the pantry.

“In my family, we've always had a soft spot for homeless people,” Kyle said. “I took the list of food to bring in … and went through my cupboards.”

“It makes me feel happy because I know I can give homeless people food.”

The Shaler Area Elementary School teachers also helped by donating items this year to try to beat last year's donation total of more than 1,300 items.

“A lot more people did this because you know the people who it's going to,” said fourth-grade teacher Nicole DiDiano.

North Hills Community Outreach benefits families in the Shaler Area School District.

When the Shaler Area teachers dropped off the donation at the North Hills Community Outreach three years ago, Kerry Zobb, activities director at the elementary school, said they saw local families in need.

“We saw the great need,” Zobb said.

The Souper Bowl collection is one of several the school hosts to benefit the North Hills Community Outreach, but each year, the students and staff beat their previous year's totals.

“We make sure we donate year-round, not just Christmas and Thanksgiving,” Zobb said.

“I think with looking at the economic needs in this area, the teachers wanted to give back to the students in their classroom, both current and past … and the students really want to help others.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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