Snohomish High students face off to raise money to fight hunger

SNOHOMISH — The students at Snohomish High School have upped their game when it comes to giving back to the community.

The current “SHS Fights Hunger” campaign is a joint effort between Vince Ivelia’s leadership class, the Associated Student Body (which Ivelia advises) and Ben Doucette’s DECA class.

It started with a fundraiser and canned food drive to benefit the Snohomish Food Bank, which the students in the school have done for years.

This year, the kids turned it into a March Madness-style competition, with teachers facing off against one another in an extended bracket.

The teachers taking part organized their second period students to raise money, either by doing something as simple as passing a bucket around for extra change or doing something more elaborate.

Hunter Ellison, 15, for example, worked his neighborhood and in one week raised $179.

“I just decided to ask Mr. Doucette to grab one of the boxes and start walking around the neighborhood,” Ellison said.

Alexa Scofield, 17, drew up a fundraising letter and sent it out to several hundred local businesses, raising about $1,000 that way, she said.

“The words we’ve been using are compassion and competition,” Ivelia said. “Whether the motivation is compassion and giving back to the community, or competition, it all goes to the same great cause.”

The March Madness bracket showing how well each teacher’s team was progressing was hung on a wall in the school’s commons area.

Doucette, who came into the competition with the most donations and had gotten a “bye” in the first round, was matched up against computer-aided design teacher Brad Johnson on April 14 — the “Sweet Sixteen” round.

“I definitely think competition brings in a sense of wanting to participate,” said Alison Baker, 17, a senior who ran the canned food drive in 2015 and was waiting to tabulate the week’s results.

When the results came in, Doucette’s class recorded $88.08 in cash and 352 food item donations. But Johnson’s class raised $351.11 and 1,404 food items, knocking Doucette off the bracket.

“The mighty giant has fallen,” one student said, as Johnson’s name was advanced to the next round.

With that round, the tally rose to $2,931.70 of the $3,000 goal for the food bank.

Doucette’s DECA classes also expanded the reach of the drive to organize a new campaign with the San Diego-based nonprofit Friends &Family Community Connection.

The goal for that drive is to pull together another $10,000, which will be used to assemble 75,000 meal packages to send to areas in Tanzania where malnutrition is rampant.

“Half of the world’s population lives in utter poverty,” Doucette said, explaining the motivation behind the new campaign.

Getting out of poverty requires overcoming two steep hurdles: lack of energy caused by malnutrition and lack of clean water, he said.

The food packages are a specially formulated high-protein mix of soy, rice and dried vegetables designed to deliver a big vitamin boost.

The students will gather May 5 to put the meal mixes together, assembly-line style. That’s also the last day of the drive.

By April 21, the total amount raised was more than $7,500, which met the food bank goal. All the donations going forward are being directed toward the Tanzania effort, Ivelia said.

Teachers that got knocked out of the bracket don’t simply stop fundraising, he added.

“We’re still going to support one of the teachers,” he said.

That’s what Ivelia’s doing after he got knocked out of the Elite Eight round — again, by Brad Johnson’s class.

“I lost big-time!” he said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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