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Hillside students give back by collecting food for annual food drive

The Hillside Elementary Giving Chain Food Drive allows students to donate nonperishable food and also place a statement of what they are thankful for in the turkey box, which was created by Tyler Lewis, a student at the school. Each morning, Principal Frank Norton reads a few entries from the box during the daily announcements. (Submitted photo) 1 / 2
This year’s “Giving Chain” spans the whole main hallway at Hillside Elementary, showing the passion the students at the school have for giving back to the community. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

Every year around Thanksgiving, the students at Hillside Elementary take time out of their busy days to think about what they are thankful for, while also collecting food for the school’s annual Giving Chain Food Drive.

“Throughout the food drive, students create a paper ‘Giving Chain,’” Hillside school counselor Ally Frosch said. “For each item of food they donate, students write their names on a ‘link.’ These links are chained together and hung around the school, allowing students to see how much of an impact their generosity will make on the New Richmond community.”

According to Frosch, the students brought in a fairly large haul last year, but they have high hopes of collecting even more food during this year’s drive.

“I know that the turnout last year was pretty large. We are trying to see if we can top ourselves this time around,” Frosch said.

This year, the students collected 668 items of food, which weighed in at 503.5 pounds and was delivered to the Five Loaves Food Shelf in New Richmond on Nov. 27. Students brought in nonperishable food items to the school during a week-and-a-half period before Thanksgiving.

“We really want Hillside students to embrace a culture of caring and sharing with others,” Frosch said. “We also work to help them become active community participants, and this food drive really allows them to take ownership in that process.”

Not only does the food drive help out the local food shelf, but the students are able to learn about what it means to help their community and give thanks during the holiday season.

“The students absolutely love the food drive. It is so wonderful watching them connect to the project and become so invested in helping their community,” Frosch said. “We have had many students participate this year. I also try to emphasize that there are many ways to show thanks and give back over the holiday season, and they have other choices if they aren't able to bring in food.”

Although some schools make collecting food for the food shelf a competitive endeavor, the staff at Hillside decided that it would be better for their drive to be a friendly one in hopes of showing students that giving back to the community is the most important thing about a food drive.

“The Giving Chain Food Drive is a friendly thing. It is definitely a non-competitive project with a goal of bringing Hillside students together to help the community,” Frosch said.

With all the food the students brought in this year, the “Giving Chain” they created stretches all the way around the main hallway and beyond.

“The students think the food drive and building the chain is exciting,” Frosch said. “They like knowing that they can contribute to their community and help people, even at such a young age, I've also had a few students tell me that the food drive has led to family conversations about giving and being thankful.”

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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