Annual Food Drive Sparks Competition

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Credit: Sarah Markey '22

The can drive has begun, and the middle school is already looking forward to yet another dress down day.

Every year, Williston holds a competition between grades, organized by the Community Service Club, to collect donations for The Western Mass Food Bank. The winning class receives a dress down day and the knowledge they’ve helped our local community.

The food drive started on November 28 and goes until the 13th of December. Students are asked to donate nonperishable items, such as granola bars, canned food, and personal care products.

The middle school has repeatedly won the competition by a long shot. Last year, they collected 762 donations, accounting for almost a third of the 2,319 item raised by the school. The class of 2019 came in second, with 584 contributions, trailing the middle school by 178 items. While the middle school has been unbeatable in past years, the food drive did not even start as a competition.

The event is extremely publicized at Williston, but it has not always been this way. Mrs. Garrity, the faculty advisor of the Community Service Club, says a lack of effort in organization led to poor results in donations.

“It started before I got here, there was always food drive of some kind,” Garrity said. “And the first year I organized it, it was not very successful. We just didn’t pay enough attention to it. Then it got competitive.”

Originally the donations went to the Easthampton Community Center, but after the competitive spirit started to flow at Williston and the donation numbers soared, it was too much for the Community Center to handle.

“They were like woah, woah, woah, we can’t deal with this,” Garrity explained. “We switched over to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Since then, we’ve beaten the number every year. Last year we beat it by 1,000 which was crazy!”

In 2016, Williston raised 1,300 items. Last year students beat the record, checking in at 2,319 donations.

So, what’s the secret to the middle school’s success? The Willistonian interviewed several different people, who all had varying theories.

According to senior Ryan Dwyer, a certain faculty member has had a great impact on the exponential growth in donations.

“Ms. Fulcher, 100%,” he said. “When she stands up in front of the middle school and gives one of her speeches every single one of those kids runs home and the very next day that donation box is overflowing. Last year the middle school donated 762 items, and they had somewhere around 80 kids. That’s pretty incredible.”

Adeline Hume ’22 thinks they win because, “it’s just more exciting when you’re that age.”

She also mentioned while she was in middle school, they had a couple of assemblies about it and there were of signs everywhere.

Mrs. Garrity cited yet a third possible reason, “I think it helps to have all day students,” she said.

The upper school is only 30% day students, but the entire middle school is, meaning 70% of the high school doesn’t go home every night to a place with donate-able items, and parents who can shop for canned food, while every student in the middle school does.

Freshman Emma Merrill agreed with Mrs. Garrity.

“It’s not fair! They’re all day students,” she said.

Just because the middle school has dominated in the past doesn’t mean people have given up hope.

“It could be the year they go down,” Mrs. Garrity told The Willistonian.

The competition isn’t over until it’s over, and there is plenty of time for a grade to pull ahead. While a dress down day is at stake, what really matters is that donation numbers go up and Williston can make an impact on the winters of local families.