Lenihan service-learning group sponsors holiday food drive

RICOCHET students from Lenihan deliver 851 non-perishable food items to the Emergency Food Box.

RICOCHET students from Lenihan deliver 851 non-perishable food items to the Emergency Food Box.

Lenihan’s student leaders are quite busy these days. During one week in November RICOCHET, a leadership/service-learning group at the school, sponsored a can drive netting 851 cans for the Emergency Food Box.

It’s not the first time these students have organized a charitable event. It certainly won’t be their last.

“We wanted to give food to people who didn’t have food,” said Emma Younkin, one of the RICOCHET students who organized the drive.

“Especially with Thanksgiving,” added fellow organizer Avery Case.

Nov. 18-22 Lenihan students were asked to bring non-perishable food items to benefit the Emergency Food Box. Leading the charge was RICOCHET, a student leadership program from the Iowa State University Extension. The group formed at Lenihan a year ago and since then they have raised money to sponsor swimming lessons at the Community Y, a successful food drive for House of Compassion, and the recent drive for the Emergency Food Box. Branded as the “Feeding Lenihan” campaign, the RICOCHET students hoped to collect 720 cans – one for each Lenihan student. It was a goal they easily surpassed.

To promote the drive, RICOCHET students created posters, shared a PowerPoint presentation for staff to use and offered to talk to classes themselves. The students also agreed to be the first to bring canned items on the Monday of the drive to encourage their classmates.

“I texted all my friends to bring cans and to forward it to all their friends,” Avery said.

RICOCHET students helped count cans and totals were announced daily. On Monday, Nov. 25, the students delivered the goods to the Emergency Food Box.

“I think it was a good experience because the faces of the people were happy for the people who don’t have food,” Emma said. “They were thankful.”

“It made me feel good inside to know I’m helping out my community,” Avery said.

Service to school and community is a big component of RICOCHET and the students are excited about projects on the horizon. Since the group formed last year they’ve grown, creating a more formal structure with officers and committees. The students say they’re now looking into a bake sale, Valentine’s Day candy-grams and placemats for nursing homes – among other things.

“We are extremely proud of the kids for looking for ways to help the community, setting goals, and reaching well beyond them,” said Diane Simpson, who teachers at Lenihan. Simpson helped the students with their project, along with Angie Lovell, Court Koch, Diane Simpson, Steve Simpson, Liz Jurgensen, Ada Brown, Lyle Niemyer, Mary Hines, Jackie Patterson, and Donna Patton. “We are also grateful to the community organizations who have been helpful to us as we reach out and practice our leadership skills.”