Southmoreland repeats as 'Hunger Challenge' champs
By Paul Paterra
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The Golden Soup Can Trophy will remain at Southmoreland High School for another year.
That's because students at Southmoreland School District collected more canned goods than those at their rival district — Mt. Pleasant — for the second consecutive year.
The “Hunger Challenge,” as the competition is called, gets its name from the popular teen novel and film, “The Hunger Games.” All of the food collected was delivered to the Westmoreland County Food Bank in Delmont.
Southmoreland School District students collected 1,065 pounds of canned goods in this year's food drive. The drive for 2013 was spearheaded by the Random Acts of Kindness group at the high school.
Jenna Hixson, a high school teacher who helps with the group, said she rewarded a student with a copy of “The Hunger Games” book and some candy by picking a ticket that students received when donating canned goods.
However, the activities of one student really impressed her.
“This one girl brought two flats of cans,” Hixson said. “She put them in the back of my room and was walking out of the room. I asked, ‘Why didn't you put your name on any of the tickets?' She said she didn't need to be rewarded for doing something nice for somebody else.”
Clarissa Amond, the food bank's community outreach director, said she noticed the gap is closing between the two school districts.
“Mt. Pleasant Vikings are really catching up,” she said. “There was only a 197-pound difference this year and there were over 500 pounds of a difference last year. If Mt. Pleasant steps it up ... I think (Southmoreland) is going to get a run for their money.”
Nakita Edwards, a freshman at Southmoreland High School, said she brought in canned goods such as corn, potatoes, fruits and tomatoes.
“I think it's great people can get canned foods that people bring in,” Edwards said.
It wasn't a big deal to Edwards that the school bested Mt. Pleasant in the challenge since she has a friend that attends Mt. Pleasant. Freshman Bailey Stapleton had a similar sentiment.
“I like helping because I do it all the time, because I'm a Boy Scout,” he said. “We always bring in canned foods, always help out people who are in trouble with food. I try to help as much as I can. I like good competition. I like to help out people. I don't care who wins.”
Brennan Coles, a junior who's also a member of the Southmoreland football team, did like defeating rival Mt. Pleasant in the challenge.
“I wanted to beat Mt. Pleasant,” Coles admitted. “It felt good that we beat them. We also had a competition in our classroom between the periods. Whoever got the most cans didn't have homework that day.”
Stapleton said there was encouragement offered by the teachers.
“They just mainly said, try to help out as much as you can. We want to beat Mt. Pleasant,” he said.
Teacher Chuck Brittain had a classroom challenge among his six classes to see who could raise the most cans, which resulted in about 300 cans.
“It's a nice friendly competition between our two schools, but obviously the real winner is the Westmoreland Food Bank and the families this event helps,” Brittain said.
Amond agreed. “Everyone won,” she said. “I love working with these guys. They are just so enthusiastic. They have a lot of fun with it and it's a good cause. Everybody wins in the end, even though it's a competition.”
Coles, who said he's volunteered at food drives in the past, did appreciate the chance to provide some help for those in need.
“It's always good to help people,” he said. “That stuff helps out a lot. It doesn't seem like a lot, because it's a couple cans, but those people really appreciate it.”
Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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