Competition played in, Grandview Junior High School Principal Jeff Hudson said of the school’s recent canned goods drive, but the project encompassed much more than that.

“We did a little competition just to make it fun for the kids,” Hudson said. “We kept track of the donations and top numbers then gave the top classes drinks from Sonic, just something nice and simple but the kids got excited about it. The main thing was though it was just so exciting for us to see the students participate in the drive.”

The recent drive, which ran about two weeks, exceeded expectations.

“We kept a running count of what they were bringing in and never really dreamed the final numbers would become what they became,” Hudson said. 

Last year’s can drive totalled 1,476 cans collected, GVJHS Assistant Principal Amberly Johns said. Johns added that about 300 students attend the school.

“But we more than doubled that this year,” Hudson said. “About 3,200 cans is what we got. The great thing is that every kids participated. It wasn’t just certain kids participating, it was every kid regardless of their socioeconomic status that participated. The better thing is that they all had the joy and blessing of giving and getting to see the results of that in action.”

The class, Team Leadership Class, is part of the Capture Kids Hearts program, Hudson explained.

“It focuses on building positive relationships with students and teachers and so it’s a class about leadership skills obviously,” Hudson said. “But also about how to serve. We do service projects within our school and also extend them out into the community.”

Can goods the students collected went to the Grandview Area Food Pantry, which is operated by the Grandview Seventh day Adventist Church. The pantry, which operates 3:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays, serves residents in need in Grandview, Itasca, Covington and Hillsboro, according to the pantry’s Facebook page.

Hudson and Johns called the timing of the drive intentional.

“We purposely do the donation drive pretty close to Thanksgiving and Christmas because there are so many in our community in need especially this time of year,” Hudson said. “So we plan it shortly before Thanksgiving to be even more impactful for those in need.”

Grandview Elementary School students participated in a can drive as well, Johns said, but it was separate from the junior high’s project.

“Absolutely, the hope is that the spirit of giving back will stay with our students long past their time at Grandview Junior High and high school,” Johns said. 

Hudson agreed.

“It’s fun for the kids to compete against each other and all,” Hudson said. “But the underlying message is the importance of thinking beyond yourself and getting involved in the community. We tell our kids, ‘When we serve others first, we serve ourselves best.’ Try to teach them about the experience, opportunity and joy of giving back to others. You’ve heard the verse, ‘It’s more blessed to give rather than receive’ and out kids experience that. For us, it’s really cool to see them step up in that role of helping others.”

Likewise, the students involved found the experience fulfilling.

“It feels amazing to deliver cans to the Grandview Food Band and to know that it will help families in the area,” Seventh-grade student Taryn J. said. “The cans also go to the homeless and whoever needs food. It was a lot of work to deliver the cans, but it was definitely worth it.”

Fellow seventh-grade student Levi S. agreed.

“It was heartwarming to think of how many people we were going to help and it made me feel good to deliver the cans,” Levi said.

Eighth-grade student Colton M. wondered how many lives the school’s donation might possibly affect or even change while fellow eighth-grade student Reagan D. characterized the experience as amazing and cool.

“It was so good knowing that we were helping others and I’m so thankful we have something lie the food pantry,” Reagan said.

Seventh-grade student Landon G. felt much the same.

“Thank you food pantry for letting us serve you,” Landon said. “I hope you are able to help people who need the food most and I hope you know we were glad to help you.”

About 20 of the students boarded a bus last week to deliver the canned goods and tour the pantry. Several, Hudson said, already volunteer at the pantry on Tuesdays. Hudson said his hope is that the others will be inspired to volunteer as well or to donate throughout the year.

“I just love seeing the generosity of our students,” Hudson said when asked what he took away from the drive. “We’re a small campus and for them to pull together and collect over 3,000 cans is just an amazing testament to what they’re being taught through their leadership class and through the encouragement of our faculty and staff.”

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