Lake Harriet students collect two tons of food for charity

What could you accomplish in a week? Try this: one week in May, students at Lake Harriet Upper and Lower Elementary Schools collected 4,000 pounds of food for the Emergency FoodShelf Network.

"A component of youth leadership is giving back to the community," said Mary McGlennen, student council advisor for the combined campus.

The school offered incentives - a pizza party and ice cream sundae party - for classes that gathered the most food. The two campuses and classes within the schools also made side challenges to each other "just to get psyched to bring in more," McGlennen said.

One student went above and beyond for the effort. Ten-year old Ammy Rush, in teacher Susan Bell's 5th grade class, "motivated the whole class," said Bell. She passed flyers to her neighborhood and collected food from her neighbors, and she even used her own money to buy food.

A class of kindergartners who took second place at Lower refused its sundae party to donate cash to the cause.

McGlennen said the drive accomplished more than one goal. The drive was not only a "chance for all kids to stop and think about people needing help," but was a way to talk about nutritious and inexpensive food.

Karen Nyhus of the Emergency Foodshelf Network said the effort will "help prepare our shelves for the upcoming summer demand."

It was the first time Lake Harriet's Upper (grades 3-8) and Lower (grades K-2) campuses have sponsored a food drive. Approximately 780 students attend the combined campuses.