Lead by Student Body President eighth grader Grant Pierson, left, Floyd Dryden Middle School students uses carts to move donated food to a waiting Southeast Alaska Foodbank van on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Lead by Student Body President eighth grader Grant Pierson, left, Floyd Dryden Middle School students uses carts to move donated food to a waiting Southeast Alaska Foodbank van on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

School food drives exceed expectations

Students look to make a difference in community outside school

The middle school students balanced high towers of ramen noodle boxes and canned foods, trying not to let them fall.

The Floyd Dryden Middle School student council’s biennial food drive collected about 4,000 cans and boxes of food this year for the Southeast Alaska Food Bank, and on Tuesday the student council members wheeled the donations out to a large van. They piled the food on computer carts that teachers throughout the school let them borrow.

Darren Adams, the manager of the Southeast Alaska Food Bank, waited next to the van and watched as the students brought the food out.

“This is insane,” Adams said, “in a very good way. It couldn’t come at a better time. The shelves of the food bank were running low, and then in the last couple weeks we’ve been picking up donations. This will help us get through the next several months.”

Rebecca Farrell, the student council advisor at FDMS, said she thought this year’s food drive was the biggest they’ve ever had. Over the past week and a half, there were daily reminders on the morning announcements where student council members would read statistics about hunger to try and spur students to take action.

Learning more about how many people go hungry and how much food goes to waste helped inspire people to think outside of themselves and their classrooms, Student Council President Grant Pierson said.

“We really wanted to contribute to the community,” Pierson said. “We didn’t want to just help out our school.”

There were competitions between classes and some students went above and beyond. One student, Pierson and Farrell said, brought in 300 cans all on his own. Students were bringing in cans and boxes right up until Adams came by with his van Tuesday.

Earlier that day at Juneau-Douglas High School, a similar scene played out.

The JDHS chapter of Sources of Strength — a national organization that promotes positivity in schools — had organized a school-wide food drive this fall to donate boxes of Thanksgiving food. Tuesday afternoon, students in the program gathered and sorted out the turkeys and other holiday-themed foods into seven boxes that they then brought to The Glory Hall homeless shelter and Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE).

Every advisory room (more commonly known as homeroom) was given a sheet of paper earlier this semester with a list of food on it and students signed up for which foods to bring. Students in every advisory room donated, and many of them went above expectations. Dashiell Hillgartner, the Sources of Strength coordinator at AWARE, helps facilitate the program at JDHS and said it helped that the program was coordinated by familiar faces.

“It’s the holiday season, so usually everyone gets into these types of activities,” Hillgartner said. “The more student-led it is, the better the turnout.”

Senior Riley Stadt came up with the idea for the food drive. She pointed out that Sources of Strength has a list of qualities that help to build positivity in a student body, including mental health, mentors, positive friends and generosity. She wanted to emphasize that final quality, she said.

“Generosity is always one that we kind of overlooked in a way,” Stadt said. “Yeah, we think about how it impacts our own lives and what we do to promote generosity, but (Sources of Strength) hasn’t ever really done something within our school that’s really launched generosity to the next level.”

Stadt looked at her classmates putting food into the boxes and decorating the boxes with hand turkeys and other seasonal drawings and said she hopes this spurs Sources of Strength and other student organizations to be more involved in the community outside the school.

“It makes my heart happy seeing everyone having so much fun giving back to their community,” Stadt said, “and really reflecting on what were grateful for during this time, too.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


Juneau-Douglas High School freshmen Brooke Sanford, left, Margot Oliver, center, bag a turkey with senior Riley Stadt as they prepare Thanksgiving dinner boxes to be donated to AWARE and The Glory Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. The JDHS chapter of Sources of Strength, a nationwide organization that promotes positivity in schools donated seven boxes to the organizations. Students from every homeroom contributed food. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School freshmen Brooke Sanford, left, Margot Oliver, center, bag a turkey with senior Riley Stadt as they prepare Thanksgiving dinner boxes to be donated to AWARE and The Glory Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. The JDHS chapter of Sources of Strength, a nationwide organization that promotes positivity in schools donated seven boxes to the organizations. Students from every homeroom contributed food. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School senoirs Ramiro Garcia and Steven Ireland-Haight, right, fill a box with Thanksgiving dinner to be donated to AWARE and The Glory Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. The JDHS chapter of Sources of Strength, a nationwide organization that promotes positivity in schools donated seven boxes to the organizations. Students from every homeroom contributed food. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School senoirs Ramiro Garcia and Steven Ireland-Haight, right, fill a box with Thanksgiving dinner to be donated to AWARE and The Glory Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. The JDHS chapter of Sources of Strength, a nationwide organization that promotes positivity in schools donated seven boxes to the organizations. Students from every homeroom contributed food. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School student decorate a Thanksgiving dinner box full of food to be donated to AWARE and The Glory Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School student decorate a Thanksgiving dinner box full of food to be donated to AWARE and The Glory Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire
A section of Angoon along the coast is seen on June 14. Angoon was destroyed by the U.S. Navy in 1882; here is where they first pulled up to shore.
Long-awaited U.S. Navy apology for 1882 bombardment will bring healing to Angoon

“How many times has our government apologized to any American Native group?”

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon announced this week she plans to seek a third three-year term. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Mayor Beth Weldon seeking third term amidst personal and political challenges

Low mill rate, more housing cited by lifelong Juneau resident as achievements during past term.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 19, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A king salmon is laid out for inspection by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at the Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor during the Golden North Salmon Derby on Aug. 25, 2019. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Emergency order bans king salmon fishing in many Juneau waters between June 24 and Aug. 31

Alaska Department of Fish and Game says low projected spawning population necessitates restrictions

Three cruise ships are docked along Juneau’s waterfront on the evening on May 10, as a Princess cruise ship on the right is departing the capital city. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Sitka residents join those in Juneau proposing hard caps on cruise ships as tourism grows

Two ballot measures could be presented to local voters in the two Southeast Alaska towns this fall

James Whistler, 8, operates a mini excavator during Gold Rush Days on Saturday, June 17, 2023. People young and old were offered a chance to place tires around traffic cones and other challenges after getting a brief introduction to the excavator. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
There’s good reason to be extra charged up for this year’s Juneau Gold Rush Days

Digital registration for logging/mining competitors new for 32nd annual event this weekend.

Glory Hall Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk points out some of the features of the homeless shelter’s new location a few days before it opens in July of 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
Mariya Lovishchuk stepping down after 15 years as executive director of the Glory Hall

Leader who oversaw big changes in Juneau’s homeless programs hopes to continue similar work.

Most Read