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Southmoreland High school trio spearheads food drive

Paul Paterra | Independent-Observer
Seniors (from left): Andrew Kohler, Derek Miller and Josh Baker are spearheading the Southmoreland Holiday Food Drive through Dec. 20.

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Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 8:54 p.m.

Three Southmoreland students decided they wanted to be of some help to those in need this holiday season.

The trio remembered how well the school did in the Hunger Games challenge in September, defeating rival Mt. Pleasant in a competition to collect the most canned goods to be delivered to the Westmoreland County Food Bank in Delmont.

This resulted in the Southmoreland Holiday Food Drive spearheaded by seniors Derek Miller, Andrew Kohler and Josh Baker, which will run through Dec. 20. Those cans also will be donated to the food bank. Drop off locations can be found in the school's history hall.

“Just one day (they) decided to do this,” said Cindy Poorbaugh, learning support aid for the high school. ”They've kind of taken it by the horns.”

“We were talking about how the first food drive went,” Baker added. “There was no prize (in that food drive). It was just for bragging rights. We thought maybe if we put up a prize and have all the grades try to get bragging rights and a prize over the other grades we could get more cans. When we finally got the OK from the (principal's) office, everything started moving a lot faster.”

The drive is a competition between the school's four grades. As of Dec. 10, the seniors were winning in a landslide, with 81 cans collected throughout the first week of the food drive. The juniors had six and the sophomores and freshmen had yet to contribute a can.

“It started out really slow, but after one day that's when everybody started donating,” Kohler said.

The school's Alpha Club is sponsoring the food drive.

“They're letting these three guys fly with it,” Poorbaugh said.

Kohler contacted the food bank to let those at the facility know what was happening, Baker took charge of contacting The Independent-Observer to get the word out, and Miller is working as he put it, “behind the scenes.”

“I've been putting a whole bunch of fliers around the school, making sure everybody knows when the food drive is,” Miller said.

As evidenced by the early tallies of the collection totals, response from the underclassmen has been very light.

“Seniors are really taking charge of it,” Baker said Dec. 10. “It's more than just bragging rights. This is a grade free-for-all.”

“The upper grades are producing,” Kohler added. “The lower grades, not so much.”

No certain canned good is needed, just about anything would benefit clients of the food bank.

“As long as it doesn't expire and can be stored for a period of time, the food bank accepts it,” Kohler said, adding food bank representatives will be coming to the school to receive what is collected. “The food bank serves over 15,000 individuals in Westmoreland County and the food they get supplies a five to seven-day supply of food from the food bank to the families. It does make a difference. It supplies them with at least a week's worth of food.”

There will be a prize for the grade that donates the most cans, which will inlcude a pizza party and a movie day.

“I've known people who have gone (to the food bank),” Baker said. “I've seen the people coming out, they're relieved knowing what they've got. It makes it easier for the holidays.”

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or

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