Prairie students ace food drive
Students from Prairie High School are learning one of the best lessons in life. They are lending a helping hand to their neighbors in need this holiday season. Through their efforts over 1,800 pounds of food and $1500.00 was raised locally for the St. Mary’s Hospital Food Bank.Seth Guyer, Katherine Nida and principal Randy Brown with some of the food donations for the Food Bank at Prairie High School. Katherine stands on the scale so they can get an idea of the number of pounds of food they had donated.
Close to $4000 in proceeds from the Idaho County Shootout, a basketball fundraiser with Grangeville High School co-sponsored by the Idaho County Sheriff’s Department, is earmarked for local food banks. Inland Cellular contributed $150 to each school and students sold signed basketballs to supplement proceeds from the admission fee. Although GHS won the competition on the court, the PHS students were winners, too, when they augmented those funds with a fund drive of their own.
Text messages, in-school signs, intercom announcements and even door to door solicitations helped raise additional funds and food.  Cassie Weightman, PHS student, dedicated herself to the effort and raised about $350 for the holiday food boxes destined to over 56 families in need.
The PHS food drive was coordinated by the Health Occupations Student Association members. The HOSA students prodded their classmates to bring nonperishable food to school each day. Darby Duclos, PHS teacher, appealed to the students’ competitive nature by offering to treat the class that raised the most to a pizza party. The junior class edged the seniors by only a half point.
“The students deserve a huge pat on the back for recognizing that food can cost a lot of money and not everyone has enough,” said Zara Hasselstrom, Director of the St. Mary’s Food Bank. “I’ve volunteered at the food bank for the past four years and each year the number of people who need our services increases. That’s the bad news, but the good news is that we have more food on our shelves right now than we have ever had. Thanks to the kids and to other generous people in our community.”
According to Hasselstrom, some of the money raised will be used to purchase turkeys or hams to place in the holiday food boxes. “Even without asking, seven people, so far, have asked Reiner’s Grocery to set aside a turkey for the food bank then paid for it themselves. That proves we live in a community where people are concerned about others who may have had a difficult year.”
She also said Ron and Debbie Snyder, owners of the Hangout restaurant, are among those whose generosity is greatly appreciated. “They hosted a free Thanksgiving Dinner for anyone who wanted to come, but a number of people insisted on paying so they donated that $385 to our food bank.”
Anyone interested in donating nonperishable food can drop it off at the reception desk at St. Mary’s Hospital. Financial donations can be sent to SMHC, PO Box 137, Cottonwood, Idaho 83522. Checks should be made out to SMHC Food Bank.
“Before dropping off food, please make sure it is before the expiration date. Our foodbank complies with state regulations and I check the dates of every item before putting it on the shelves,” said Hasselstrom.
Families in need can contact Stacie Jackson, SMHC Mission Services committee member, if they would like to be confidentially included in the Angel Tree Project to receive gifts for children and/or a food basket from the food bank. She can be reached at SMHC’s Cottonwood Clinic, 962-3267.
The HOSA students and their classmates will be helping pack the family Christmas boxes and assisting with their deliveries. “We really rely on the kids to help and their hearts are always in the right place,” said Hasselstrom.

Prairie Elementary School students with the food items they gathered.

Prairie Middle School students with some of the items they collected in the food drive.

Katherine Nida and D.J. Walker with food gathered in the high school food drive.

Cottonwood, Idaho 83522


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