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Southmoreland, Mt. Pleasant collect food for Westmoreland food bank

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Students in the Southmoreland and Mt. Pleasant school districts are in competition once again.

Sure, the two schools will square off on the football field at 7 p.m. Friday at California University of Pennsylvania.

But they also are involved in the second “Hunger Challenge,” which has the two schools vying to see which can collect the most canned goods to be delivered to the Westmoreland County Food Bank in Delmont. The title of the challenge came from “The Hunger Games,” the popular teen novel and film.

Southmoreland emerged victorious in 2012 by collecting 2,025 pounds of food. To the victors went the Golden Soup Can trophy, which now sits at the high school.

“It has become quite fond of its home,” said Jenna Hixson, a teacher at the high school who has developed a group called Random Acts of Kindness that is spearheading this year's drive at Southmoreland.

“We compete both academically and athletically (against Mt. Pleasant), but now we are in a competition where both teams win by making a very significant contribution to the local food bank,” Hixson said, adding that Southmoreland is looking to defend its “Hunger Challenge” crown.

Cans were collected at the high school with the drive culminating at Friday's football game.

Students involved expressed the importance of being involved in such a project.

“Little things, such as a drive, can make a big difference,” senior Hannah Cerk said.

“In a world that takes instead of gives, one small simple donation, even a can, says that you care,” senior Keith Smitley added.

Senior Hannah Porter took into account the rivalry between the two schools as motivation for the “Hunger Challenge.”

“We strive to beat Mt. Pleasant at everything else, why would this be any different?” she asked.

Along with Hixson, other teachers at Southmoreland High School spoke to coming out victorious in the competition and helping others at the same time.

“If we are competing against Mt. Pleasant, that should be all the incentive we need to win,” said Chuck Brittain, high school teacher.

Jean Champlain, learning support teacher, was pleased to see the efforts of the high school students.

“It is amazing how our students will come together for the common good of the community,” she said.

This is actually the third year the district had been involved in collecting canned goods for the food bank.

In 2011, the students' effort resulted in more than 4,000 canned goods.

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