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Mentor Challenge a success

By Staff | Nov 21, 2018

Sue Sitter/PCT RHS students Jacoby Glasser (left) and Mariah Hjelden stand at the end of a long table filled with donation boxes from the "Mentor Challenge" at the Pierce County Food Pantry.

Rugby High School students and local community members met and exceeded the school’s annual “Mentor Challenge” as they brought more than 100 boxes of donated food to the Pierce County Food Pantry last Friday.

Paola Trottier, RHS Future Business Leaders of America advisor and business education instructor told the Tribune the food drive is an annual event. “It’s been done for the last several years through Student Council, and a lot of other organizations. They organize it and get the information out,” she said.

Trottier said the students in the FBLA sponsored the drive in conjunction with students in the school’s Mentor Program.

“What we did was, each teacher has a set of mentor students who they work with, and so, it was a ‘Mentor Challenge’ food drive,” Trottier explained. “We were each supposed to rile up the troops and get them to bring items. We had a final tally sheet, and the group that earned the most points got a pizza party.”

Trottier said the drive, which is an FBLA community service project, involved putting donation boxes in classrooms and signs on lockers across the campus.

“We had this put up on the Merchants Bank t.v. announcement; we had the radio station do some promotions for it in the news. And some parents actually brought some bags in, so here, as of late, you see bags everywhere,” Trottier continued, indicating grocery bags of non-perishable food items.

Trottier described the school’s mentor program: “We (faculty) get assigned groups of mentor kids who we can relate to and help out and we meet with them once a month. And we do different activities with them. This is one of the activities we decided to do as mentors, and we called it the ‘Mentor Challenge’ food drive.”

As she talked, Trottier walked around the room next to the food pantry, located at the Rugby Armory. Several long tables had been set up to hold food donations. After a steady stream of high school students and other helpers brought in boxes of canned meats, shelf-stable juices, rice and stuffing mixes, Trottier began counting.

Pausing, she told Pierce County Food Pantry volunteer Vonnie Degenstein, “There’s more than 100 here.”

After she made a few notes, Trottier said, “I think I know who won the challenge, too (school librarian) Mrs. Fritz’s mentor kids.”

“They’ll get a pizza party, and we’ll meet with her so she can decide when to do that,” she added.

Trottier said the FBLA students would host the party and cook the pizza.

Trottier indicated all students seemed to enjoy being involved in the drive and helping others.

“They have fun doing this, and just being busy, even just carrying boxes,” she said.

Degenstein said the food pantry was grateful for the donations.

“It helps us in November, because, as you can imagine, October, November and December is when people are very generous, but we have to keep on for the whole year, so, we have to make everything last,” Degenstein noted. “Sometimes our shelves get a little low, but we get things from the Great Plains Food Bank in Fargo; we purchase from them.”

The Pierce County Food Pantry will add items to the food collected by the students.

“We add to the boxes, because we add fresh fruit and vegetables,” Degenstein noted. “We have some bananas, and that sort of thing. We also have pieces of meat, and we add that to their boxes.”

Although the food drive took place just in time for Thanksgiving, Degenstein said the Pierce County Food Pantry doesn’t put together special donation packages for clients for that holiday.

Degenstein said of the Mentor Challenge donations, “It’s our November giveaway. We don’t do a special one for Thanksgiving; we do one for Christmas. And (then) we do 125 (donation baskets), with the turkey, and the pie and everything. We deliver them.”

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