ARLINGTON — At the start of this school year, the Leadership class at Arlington High School was tasked with going big for their annual food drive.
“I told them I wanted to see them change up their energy,” AHS Leadership Class Advisor Ben Ballew said. “I wanted to see them take it to the next level.”
From Nov. 5-16, the organizers of and contributors to the AHS “Feed the Family” food drive seemed to take Ballew’s words to heart.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Ballew and volunteers from the Arlington Community Food Bank came up with updated counts of the amounts of food and money they received during the two school weeks.
“We received $439.84 and 3,948 food items,” Ballew said. “We also had a student’s family donate $2,000 to the Arlington Community Food Bank for the food drive. This brings our grand total to 6,388 donations. Our initial goal was approximately 6,400 items, since we asked students to bring one item for each member of their families, and we estimated an average of about four people per family.”
According to the Arlington Community Food Bank, the 3,948 food items added up to 3,269 pounds of food, which they estimated is worth approximately $4,500.
“The students rose to the challenge by investing their energy and time, and it showed,” Ballew said. “We’ve collected more than four times what we had at this time last year for the Food Bank.”
In addition to the “Feed the Family” theme which enlisted students’ relatives in their collection efforts, this year’s AHS food drive saw a host of activities timed to coincide with its collection times, including “Just Dance” and “Minute to Win It” competitions pitting students against school staff members, as well as the return of the familiar favorite, “Stop Mr. Ballew from Singing,” during which students had to pay a certain amount of money, and bring in a certain number of items, to stop Ballew from singing and playing annoying songs.
“We raised $300 just from those lunchtimes alone,” said Ballew, who also credited the Leadership class with organizing two “Blitz Nights,” during which students went out into Arlington neighborhoods to collect donations. “They took the time to go out into the community to reach out to people. Their success this year is directly attributable to their ingenuity and willingness to step up their efforts outside of school hours. I hope this new level becomes a tradition.”
“The spirit of servant leadership is alive and well at Arlington High School,” said Andrea Conley, public information coordinator for the Arlington School District.