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Second Street School's leadership students and student government sponsored a food drive at the school that collected over 5,600 food items. On the front row, from the left, are Kendall Quire, Lily House, Kenzie Barber, Abby Parker, Gracie Sams, Emme Moore, Kallee Cracraft and Maddie Starkey. On the back row are Miriam Ligouri, Addison Finley, Elizabeth Vaught, Cam Crocker, Teagan Crowdus, Piper Russak, Grayson Fisher and Will Beshear. (Linda Younkin | State Journal)

When Gretchen Vaught’s leadership students at Second Street School decided to sponsor a food drive, they weren’t sure what to expect.

“I originally thought we’d get 1,000 items, but we surpassed that,” Teagan Crowdus said.

They did, by a lot.

When the two-week food drive ended last Friday, over 5,600 items had been collected.

“We thought they’d bring in like 10 items a day,” Gracie Sams said, “and then they were bringing them in by the hundreds and hundreds.”

The leadership students combined with Second Street’s student government, which had also planned to have a food drive, to sponsor the event.

The food collected will go to food baskets for several Second Street families and the backpack snack program with the rest being donated to the Emergency Community Food Pantry of Franklin County.

Students were at the food pantry after school Monday to unload, sort and stock the food items.

“The leadership team wanted to do something for the community and for the holidays,” Maddie Starkey said. “We knew it would take something to get students motivated, so for first place the whole grade gets a pizza party and a movie.”

“We wanted to do it close to the holidays so people would have food for Thanksgiving,” Kallee Cracraft said.

The drive was for non-perishable food items that students brought to their homerooms. Each day the food was collected from the homerooms and tallied on a spreadsheet. Principal Samantha Sams would give the standings each day during daily announcements.

“Even the preschool classes brought in food,” Gracie Sams said. “Not as much as the other grades, but every class did something.”

“I think it helps that we have such a large school. We have like nine or 10 grades,” Cracraft added.

The kindergarten class took first place.

“I thought the kindergarten teachers did a great job of motivating their students,” Elizabeth Vaught said.

Finishing second was the second grade class, and its prize is a popcorn party and movie.

“I definitely think without the competition we wouldn’t have gotten as much,” Will Beshear said.

Besides collecting the food, the students also did promotion, including producing a slide show presentation, creating flyers they placed around the school and finding sponsorships.

McAllen Solutions is sponsoring the pizza party, and the school’s student government is sponsoring the popcorn party.

“It taught us some life work skills,” Crowdus said. “We had responsibilities, and we had to make sure we did things right.”

They did.

“I think everyone wanted to do something hands-on after COVID, to do something to help,” Gretchen Vaught said. “It’s amazing. It’s been great to see everyone come together. There’s been some excitement the last couple of weeks, and everyone needs excitement.

“It just shows what students are capable of. They handled all of it.”

And nothing was more important than the end result.

“It’s amazing that we could get all that food in the span of two weeks,” Gracie Sams said.

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