Local high school class hoping to collect over 5,500 lbs of donations for Orangeville Food Bank

September 29, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Carrying on with the momentum from last year’s 5,500 lbs donation of non-perishables to the local food bank, Orangeville District Secondary School (ODSS) is again holding a food drive.

The initiative is in its third year and being led by the Grade 11 Leadership Class at ODSS, running now until Oct. 19.

ODSS Leadership Class teacher, Corin Mercey, said while the initiative helps feed people in need, it also teaches important lessons to her 15- and 16-year-old students.

“The importance of instilling the message to give back to your community is so important when they’re that age,” said Mercey. “They haven’t been able to get involved with their community in the past little bit, and these are some crucial years during these kids’ lives.”

She added, “I’ve definitely seen the difference that [this initiative] made, and once they see others helping them and realizing that this is important, and this is work that we need to do, then they continue to do the same in the future.”

In the past, Mercey said she’s seen her students rise to the occasion and get excited about generating donations for the Orangeville Food Bank.

“All these kids are wanting to be involved and wanting to give back because they realize that they have the opportunity to be helpful. And in school, a lot of kids find themselves asking for help, so taking on that role of being the helper is really inspiring and motivating for them,” she explained.

Mercey’s students are collecting donations through the Food Bank Street Challenge model, created by local youth Jaylen Payadachee in 2020 as a way of generating much-needed donations for the local food bank during the pandemic.

The way the challenge works is participants drop off letters to houses on a designated street, letting the homeowner know they’re doing a collection for the local food bank and will be coming by at a specific time to pick up any non-perishables they put out on their front porch. Once done collecting from a street, participants would challenge friends or families to do the same, keeping it going, and spreading it to other communities.

In 2020 and 2021 the challenge generated nearly 40,000 lbs of donations, with roughly half donated in Orangeville.

Mercey said once their challenge wraps up in mid-October, the class plans to challenge Westside Secondary School, Centre Dufferin District High School, or one of the surrounding schools.

The big idea behind the ODSS Leadership Class is “Connection Being the Catalyst of Change”, so students are seeing how they can connect with the community and be of service.

“We’re not asking if we can help, we’re asking how we can help, and always trying to give back to the community that we’re a part of. Just giving, honestly, whatever you can whenever you can,” Mercey explained. “I think passing that message on to them is super important.”

An employee of the Orangeville Food Bank is scheduled to come into Mercey’s class to talk to students about what leadership means to them and how it ties into their work. Mercey is also hoping to do a field trip to the local food bank with her students, during class, so they can have an opportunity to volunteer and see the work that’s being done behind the scenes.

There are currently 28 students in the Leadership Class.

In addition to street collections, donation boxes are set up throughout the region, where the public can donate. They’re currently set up at Gather Café (19793 Main St., Alton), Mochaberry (177 Broadway), Headwaters Racquet Club (205467 Dufferin Rd 109), and ODSS (22 Faulkner St.). These donation boxes will remain in place until Oct. 19, at which time the challenge ends.

The most needed items for the Orangeville Food Bank currently are juice and juice boxes, condiments, crackers, cookies, coffee and tea, fruit cups, canned salmon, granola bars, pudding cups, sidekicks, toilet paper, and pull-up diapers size 4/5T and 5/6T.

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