In 2017, Memorial High School (MHS) and Stratford High School (SHS) Student Council officers used their Collaborative Spirit to host a food drive during the week leading up to their rivalry football game. In that first year, they collectively gathered 6,000 food items.
The initiative began as a friendly competition, but quickly became a collaborative annual tradition between the two schools the week before their football game.
Now in its sixth year, MHS and SHS students set the bar even higher by bringing in 398,000 items each!
The donations were distributed to food pantries across Houston including Mission Yahweh Women’s Shelter, East Spring Branch Food Pantry, Spring Woods High School’s “Woods Goods” Backpack Program, and Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church’s Fuente Food Pantry, among others.
“The food brought in by both schools will make a tremendous difference in the city and our community,” said Erin Buckles, MHS English teacher and Student Council sponsor. “This allows the pantries to use their limited funds to purchase more perishable food items for those in need.”
The pantries had a lower stockpile of canned goods than normal and with the holiday season approaching, it was important to ensure the pantries had enough food items to distribute. Buckles notes that approximately 1,000 food items will feed the five zip codes served by the East Spring Branch Food Pantry.
The schools only had one week to raise donations. However, the community was eager and ready to help and collaborated to advertise the initiative through social media posts, flyers and announcements every morning.
As Philanthropy Chair on the MHS Student Council Executive Board Grace Coker manages all drives, donations and charities at the school. Grace notes that she is grateful to be part of this experience, as it is important to spread generosity across the community.
“It was a great experience to be a part of this and be able to give back!” said Grace. “We connected on a common goal: benefiting the community. We took the competition out of the picture and focused on what is most important, helping those in need. I can’t thank everyone who participated enough, we could not have done it without our community’s support.”
The food drive has been active for six years and donations have tripled every year. Mary Jackson, teacher and Student Council sponsor at SHS, mentions that she is proud to work with students who have such giving hearts.
“It is refreshing and truly amazing to work with these students,” said Jackson. “They have a heart and passion for serving the community. Initiatives like these build our students’ Core Characteristics, as they are learning to be Ethical and Service-Minded.”
Haley Ash, senior at SHS and Philanthropy Officer on the Student Council, has participated in the food drive since her freshman year. This year, she helped count the food items and organize the area where they were being kept.
“The community truly came together to raise more donations than ever this year!” said Haley. “We spread the word through social media and everyone got involved. It is important to participate because hunger is a problem in our community that many people don’t see. It was very rewarding to see both schools rallying towards the same initiative.”
The students note that the community not only came together to provide food items, but also to pack and distribute them. The MHS girls’ soccer team, business students and the golf team helped pack and drive the food to the pantries. The student body was Empathetic and Self-Aware, as they helped each other reach a common goal.
“The students’ Collaborative Spirit made this food drive a success. They saw a need in the community and exhibited a strong work ethic to benefit those who are not as fortunate,” said Raymorris Barnes, SHS principal. “With 30% of our student body identified as socio-economically disadvantaged, bringing in as many goods as possible hits home for our campus.”
The schools plan to continue the tradition and know their students will always be ready to help.
“I am very proud of our students!” said Lisa Weir, MHS principal. “They exhibited the Core Characteristics of a T-2-4 Ready Graduate and demonstrated their civic engagement and willingness to help not only those who benefit from the pantries, but also each other.”