Sue Kiesewetter reports:
Lakota students from the East side will be pitted against those on the West side – but this competition won’t be on the gridiron.
Beginning Oct. 22 students will be challenged to take part in the Reach In for Reach Out Lakota food drive to benefit families throughout the district.
Students will be asked to bring non-perishable items to school through Oct. 26, where they will be collected for the community food and clothing pantry.
The barrels and boxes filled with food from the schools will be taken to Lakota West High School the last day of the drive. That’s where Planes Moving and Storage has donated two metal portable storage units for the drive – each measuring 16-feet long, 8-feet wide and 8.5 feet high, said Jeff Lobaugh, director of business development.
One unit will be used to put foodstuffs for the early childhood, elementary, middle and freshman schools that feed to Lakota East; the other for the schools that feed to Lakota West.
“More than 19,000 pounds of food was collected last year,’’ Lobaugh said. “We never have that much weight when those containers are filled with household goods.”
The stakes are high for the high school principal of the losing side.
“This year the East and West principal have agreed to wear the other team’s spirit wear the next school day,’’ said Randy Oppenheimer, district spokesman. “That’s a tough one for them to swallow.”
The pods will also be set up at the Oct. 26 Lakota East versus Lakota West game for last minute community donations to either the East side or West side effort, Oppenheimer said.
A team of judges will eyeball the collection to determine the winning side.
“The food is very much needed because after 20 years, we’re still community-based,’’ said Lourdes Ward, chief executive officer and executive director of the non-profit group. “We don’t get any food or help from Shared Harvest (Foodbank) or United Way – it all comes in from the community.”
Ward said the pantry gives out about 18,000 pounds of food each month. Last year’s efforts provided about a month’s worth of food to hand out, she added.
“That doesn’t even include the personal care or other items we also give the families,” Ward said. “In an average month we give out about 1,000 tops and bottoms when we have them.”
The winning side will be announced at halftime at the varsity football game which will be played at Lakota West High School this year. A trophy will be given out and housed at the winning side’s high school.
“In the end Reach Out Lakota clients were the winners of district’s generosity and we look forward to it again this time,’’ Ward said.