Canned food fever ignites charitable spirit

The annual “pie-in-the-sky” target is 200,000 cans of food collected for Hood River County residents in need. Last year, the Hood River Valley High School student food drive for FISH food bank netted close to 124,000.

“This year, we hope to do a little better,” said Niko Yasui, activities director and leadership teacher for HRV.

The canned food drive, which provides close to 20 percent of the food bank’s annual operating budget, involves literal cans, plus the cash donations needed to purchase other food items distributed through FISH. The students’ drive usually stocks the shelves for several months.

“Some people can’t afford a lot. This is our way to help,” said Sam Ortiz, a sophomore volunteer.

“We are part of the community. We want to help,” said Kim Vargas, another sophomore involved in the drive.

To help reach these annual, honorable goals, the school staff provides fun and funny incentives along the way.

At 75,000 cans collected, administrators have agreed to come to school dressed in opposite-gender clothing. At 100,000 cans, every student gets a (Dairy Queen) Dilly Bar. At 130,000 cans students would enjoy a free dance and 200,000 cans would involve, on a personal level, an eagle tattoo for Vice Principal Todd McCauley — “but only if Mrs. McCauley will let him,” said Yasui.

This year’s event takes a theme from the block-buster film, “Hunger Games,” and Yasui kicked off the event wearing one of the signature blue wigs seen in the film.

“If the kids get to 150,000 cans, several administrators have agreed to have their hair dyed blue and gold,” added Yasui.

The kooky antics surrounding the event, including a males-in-bikinis car wash slated for this weekend by Nan Noteboom’s class, reflect the genuine positive spirit of all involved, and the importance of joining together as a community to get something serious accomplished.

“All of the cans and money goes to the food bank to help others and that is really important,” said Luis Lopez, HRV sophomore.

“I feel bad for people who don’t have money but this is something that I can do,” said Laura Delgado, another sophomore.

The community generously steps up to help the entire student body in their monumental task. In addition to the door-to-door requests conducted by student groups, fundraising events have been organized by many of the participating third period classes.

Choir classes have passed the hat at concerts. A “beater” car has been donated for the annual $1-a-smash car demolition. The recent Nutcracker performances collected more than 2,400 cans at the door. Collection bins and cans are found in many area businesses. Families have sacrificed from their own cupboards.

The drive is slated to end on Dec. 19. Donations may be dropped off at the front office of HRV or any of the donation sites around town.

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