Food drive brings in over 800 pounds to The Shelf
by Nick Clark
Sun POST Newspapers
The walk out of the Champlin Park stadium was a disappointing one for the boys and girls soccer teams Sept. 19.
Both had lost at home to Andover that night, punctuating an evening in which the girls blew a 4-1 lead to lose 5-4, and in which the boys struggled to score at all in a 2-0 defeat.
But, in both cases, it didn’t take long for the reality of what both clubs accomplished that night to set in.
In each instance, all they had to do was take quick look inside the schools own food shelf – simply known as The Shelf.
Spearheaded by the efforts of Mary Thell, who has a daughter in the girls program, the two team’s combined to bring in over 800 pounds of food during the night to help restock the The Shelf, and in turn, some of the cupboards at the homes of their own classmates.
“We both lost, but then you go out and see this fundraiser, and the success we were having with it, and it makes you feel pretty good again,” said senior girls soccer captain Kelli Heytens. “As a whole I think it is really cool to see the soccer community come together for a good cause to help these kids that don’t have food. We are able and we have food everyday, so this is a way to just help and do what we can to make sure others have the same.”
The efforts, much like the results of the food drive, were astounding.
Thanks in large part to Thell, the teams organized food bins are every age level game during the night. They also had a bin inside the school gym, where the volleyball team was playing, and asked the Dance Team to help out too.
To strengthen the turnout, the decision was made to run the program – which they titled Kick Out Hunger – in conjunction with Youth Night, which generally helps bring in the largest crowd of the season.
All youth players who wore their traveling soccer jersey and donated two or more non-perishable food items was admitted for free. Adults that also brought a donation received a dollar off their admission price.
In addition, the teams made sure word spread to Andover, where the visiting parents also ended up contributing to the over 800-pound total collected by nights end.
“We got so much food for people that need it, and it is just a really good cause,” said senior boys captain A.J. Gardner. “I have some friends that actually use the food shelf, and they come and get some food and they love it because it really does help them and their families out.”
The Shelf, which was created two yeas ago by Amy Harnack, is a committed service limited to the students within Champlin Park High School in need of assistance.
But unlike many organized food shelves, which require proof of need, The Shelf is a no-questions-asked operation that has helped the school make sure its students are not going hungry.
“It came when it seemed we were getting lower on some of the food supplies, so it was really helpful,” said Christine Anderson, who works as a Social Worker at Champlin Park and, along with Special Education teacher Amy Pederson, helps oversee The Shelf. “The initiative the kids have shown has been amazing. They learn a sense of community and how to give back to others in need, and they gain perspective on maybe how good they have had it in life. It is really rewarding for everybody involved.”
Contact Nick Clark at [email protected]