On October 8th, 2013, my mom received an email from a friend that Frisco Family services is dangerously low on food and desperately needs donations of 60,000 lbs. of food to feed the needy in the area. That evening during dinner time, my mom shared this news with me. As a family, I knew we would donate some food to the FFS but I realized that we could make a bigger impact if we could spread the word and reach out to more people for donations. It was one of the best dinner table conversations we ever had as a family because at the end of dinner, I knew I had to do something. I decided to approach my school and explore the idea of a food drive with them.
I met with my Assistant Principal and some other teachers, and before I knew it, Heritage Philanthropy Club (HPC), the Muslim Student Association (MSA), and Daughters of our Living Lord and Savior (DOLLS) were all excited about this project and eager to help.
We decided to hold a competition between the 2A classes. The class with the maximum items donated would win but didn’t reveal what the winning class would receive as a prize. At Heritage High School, every individual, whether they are a student, or a teacher, lives by a code called Coyote CLASS. CLASS stands for for Character, Leadership, Accountability, Scholarship, and Service to others. We hoped the students would use this as an opportunity to show their service to others.
The classes were rated on a point system per item. The items most needed by Frisco Family services were worth two points, while all other items were worth a point. Each Friday, the items collected were tallied up, points were awarded, and the officers of the organizing clubs took the items to the front of the school to set up a display. Students saw this display grow larger and larger as the weeks went on, and gained a deep sense of pride in themselves and their school.
To keep the momentum going, we promoted the food drive during the school news broadcast every morning. During lunch, we had a "food drive representative" to remind the students of the event. We used rhetorical appeals (ethos, logos, pathos) that we learnt in the classrooms whenever possible. We pulled out statistics from Frisco Family Services about the projected number of families that would be struggling to have food on their tables in the upcoming holiday season, we drew of the word "philanthropy" to spark curiosity in our efforts, and raised awareness among the students that there are people right here in Frisco who needed their help. We instilled in the students, a desire to help others in a degree that Heritage hadn't seen before.
We had great participation in the first week itself. Some classes brought in, a humble 5-10 cans, while other classes knocked it out of the park by bringing cartloads of food. At that time, we decided to divulge the prize for the contest winners – FREE breakfast for the winning class.
A little incentive gave another boost to the food drive. Each class was attempting to outdo each other in bringing in food items. On the side, we contacted local stores and very excited when two local Kroger stores agreed to match our collection up to $250. Whole Foods went another step ahead and matched penny for penny.
On the last day of the food drive, we had the front hallway of the school filled with food collected by the students. A Penske truck had been hired to take the food from the school to Frisco Family Services. All of the organizing groups come together one last time to load the food (yes, we had two truckloads of food!!!) into the truck.
I am proud to say that Heritage students and staff contributed a total of 2,601 items weighing 2,678 lbs. That’s enough food to feed 27 families and fill a 16-foot truck twice! Special recognition to Ms. Biggerstaff’s class, who contributed 1,215 of the 2,601 items
I could hardly believe that a simple email and a dinner time conversation could lead to such an experience of a lifetime. I am certain that all of us who were involved in this cause were profoundly impacted and will continue to serve in the community in one way or the other. To me personally, it was another step in my journey to helping others. The most satisfying part about this event was that it was initiated, planned, and executed by the students with help from the faculty and administration.I was super thrilled at the volume of donations we received and felt a little lighter that at least some of the local families wouldn't go to bed hungry during the holiday season.