Friendly Competition Aids Local Food Bank

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There are not many contests where everyone who participates comes out a winner.

But Payson High School's Key Club members (the teen arm of Kiwanis) and members of the PHS Drama Club are embroiled in just such a battle.

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Kiwanis Key Club treasurer Chad Lammers and member Rex de Roulhac with the foodstuffs that have been deposited so far in the collection box at Payson High School's library.

Which club will collect the most cans and other nonperishable foodstuffs for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank this November?

On the one hand, Key Club is about 15 members strong. On the other hand, the thespians out-number them by more than double.

Key Club members are working hard to get the entire student body at PHS involved in the effort.

They have enlisted teachers to place collection boxes in their classrooms.

"We're very optimistic that with all the new teachers some of them will be enthusiastic," said Key Club president Bridget Mendoza.

Alexis Hilliard is writing peppy intercom announcements to keep enthusiasm strong and those cans coming in for the duration of the contest.

The Key Club plans to place more boxes strategically located in the community.

So it is kind of like the entire school versus the drama department, Mendoza said.

The Key Club does service projects all year in keeping with its mission statement and motto: "Caring -- Our Way of Life."

The membership has collected food for those in need for at least the last 10 years.

The challengers may be hard to beat because there are competitions within competitions.

The advanced acting class has challenged the rest of the drama department.

And for some of the beginning actors, it is a sibling challenge.

Audrie Bott and Julia Legassie, both freshmen with older siblings who acted and have graduated PHS, said they are competing with the "first generation."

Instead of last year's haunted house which cost a can for admission, drama students went trick or treating Halloween night asking homeowners for canned goods instead of candy.

"We have gone to parents, other family members, Bashas' and Safeway asking for donations," freshman Kendra Huston said.

The contest goes on until Nov. 30, but delivery of food to the local food bank will happen in two stages.

Just in time to prepare for Turkey Tuesday, the food bank will pick up all food collected on Friday, Nov. 16.

Volunteers will add the food PHS students have collected to what they have from other organizations. The food will then be sorted into Thanksgiving meal boxes on Sunday for distribution two days before Thanksgiving.

"We gave food to 240 families last year at Thanksgiving," said food bank manager Wayne Parent.

He is delighted the contest will go through November.

"It's all in the timing," Parent said. "Food collected during the holiday season keeps the food bank's shelves stocked into January."

Parent said he would like to see items like cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie mix, yams and stuffing.

And the winners in this special Win-Win contest: Key and Drama Club members, the people who donate food, the people who volunteer their time to sort it and especially, those in need of a little extra help.

"It is part of our duty, living in America; people who are less needy should help out," Bott said.

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