The 23rd Annual Pantry Raid provides an opportunity for John Tyler and Robert E. Lee high schools to collect nonperishable food items for the East Texas Food Bank.
But this year, some of the high school students are getting creative in their efforts.
Lee students decided to adopt a theme called “The Hunger Games” after the popular book and movie of the same name.
In the fictional story, so-called “tributes” are representatives from the 12 districts that make the nation. In the competition, the last tribute standing wins.
Lee students created their own version of "The Hunger Games" for the school after hearing about another school that did the same thing.
The school selected 12 “tributes” including students, teachers and administrators. Large pictures of the tributes hang on an outside wall that many Lee students pass daily. The student tributes were selected based on their leadership abilities and involvement, among other things.
Students are encouraged to bring food donations in honor of one of the tributes. Each day this week, the two tributes with the lowest collection will be eliminated from the competition and a red “X” will be placed over their photo.
Students who contribute the most food could be eligible for prizes such as off-campus lunch privileges for upperclassmen, pizza and more.
Student Council leaders said the student body seems to be enthusiastic about the competition.
Ben Harrison, 17, a senior and student body secretary, said he noticed students using social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to encourage their peers to donate food.
In addition to the on-campus effort, the students also put out 2,000 paper grocery bags at houses in the community giving people an opportunity to contribute. Feeder elementary and middle schools also are involved.
Lee Student Body President Tyler Jones, 18, a senior, said he feels really good about the progress being made this year and believes the school is doing just as good if not better than last year in terms of food collected.
“It means a lot to us,” Jones said of the Pantry Raid. “We take a lot of pride in this.”
At John Tyler High School, the students are looking to defend last year’s Pantry Raid win but also keeping the focus on the need.
“We want to win,” Student Body President Charity Kennebrew, 17, a senior, said. “It’s always good to have competition. We just want to give back to the community and bring the community together.”
Ms. Kennebrew said the Student Council leadership started collecting cans the first week of school, about two weeks ago. They are working with several community businesses that support the school as well as their feeder elementary and middle schools.
On campus, competitions between classes help to incentivize students to bring donations.
This year, the campus reached out to more members of the community including through churches and banks, she said.
Student Body Vice President Jacquelyn Kindle, 17, a senior, said they have tried to explain the importance of the food drive to their peers so students know where it goes and who is served by it.
“It’s all going to a good cause,” Ms. Kindle said. “We’re just the youth trying to help our community. Instead of doing negative stuff, the youth of East Texas (are) trying to do something positive.”
The Pantry Raid winner is scheduled to be announced during halftime of the John Tyler-Lee football game on Friday at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Students put all of the donated food into a large trailer and the food bank weighs the trailer before and after collection. The school that collects the most number of pounds per student wins the competition.