FORT MILL — District schools are encouraging everyone – from students to teachers to staff members – to help out in an event to boost supplies at the Fort Mill Care Center.
Both Fort Mill and Nation Ford high schools are again participating in Student Hunger Drive, a national effort running this month to wipe out hunger at the community level.
“Our students giving back to our community,” said Forrest Holloman, student council president at Nation Ford. “If that isn’t a great lesson to instill in our students then I don’t know what is.”
Student Hunger Drive began in Iowa in 1986 and has collected more than 13 million pounds of food. It operates in several pockets across the country and came to the Charlotte area in 2010. More than 50,000 pounds of food came in that first year.
Fort Mill and Nation Ford are among 44 high schools participating nationally. There are 20 in the Charlotte area, but only these two in South Carolina.
The food collected from the Fort Mill schools will be delivered to the Fort Mill Care Center, an idea that got the district thinking bigger. Bigger than the thousands of pounds raised when the two high schools and feeder middle schools competed last year.
“It has actually gone district-wide this year,” said Holloman. “All 13 Fort Mill schools will be participating in a six-week period of ‘drive time.’ All schools have already picked a two-week period.”
Julia Applegate, student council treasurer at Fort Mill, said of course there’s a rivalry with Nation Ford, but also with the Charlotte-area schools. Being accepted are canned or boxed food and water.
“The main goal is to help raise awareness that in addition to the hungry and needy that are around the world, there are a large amount of people who need food in our community,” Applegate said.
Being a community event, there are opportunities to community members outside of schools, too. Applegate will drop off bags in Tega Cay neighborhoods where she lives for collection Oct. 13-20. There’s a partnership with Maggie Moo’s running Oct. 15-21.
“It’s just a really good way for not only high school students but younger students and the adults in our community can come together to try and help feed our surrounding citizens,” Applegate said. “I think it’s a good way for everyone to work hard in order to accomplish one goal.”
The district envisions a situation where the drive becomes an expectation annually, students delivering items and everyone able to participate. The effort in Fort Mill actually is a slight breakaway from the partnering national event, which doesn’t have a way for middle and elementary schools to participate.
“We can have great giving power as individuals and as individual schools, but imagine the power of one drive that partners all 13 Fort Mill schools in one effort to donate back to its own community,” Holloman said. “When we work as one we can get it all done in an even better way.”
His hopes is that, soon, a range of students, parents, staff and community members just expect the drive about this time each fall. That a brand will be built. And that hungry residents in Fort Mill will benefit from it.
“We want to excite students at all levels of school in order to build the drive up through high school instead of having a drive whenever a school feels like it,” he said.