February 7, 2014

Ritter food drive shows everyone deserves a place at God’s table

Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School students pose in front of canned goods they collected during their annual food drive for the needy in the Indianapolis area. (Submitted photo)

Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School students pose in front of canned goods they collected during their annual food drive for the needy in the Indianapolis area. (Submitted photo)

By Briana Stewart

The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons always bring a bounty of food for people in need, but what happens when the holidays end? Who feeds the hungry then?

Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis responded to these questions by hosting their annual food drive in the unconventional month of January in hopes of providing families with the food they need during this winter’s challenging weather.

A common fear of high school food drives is the lack of student spirit to donate, but Cardinal Ritter found more than one way to keep the students enthused about giving.

The change in season was the main tactic as Joel Hubert, campus minister and Service Learning coordinator, explains.

“We [Cardinal Ritter] thought that by having the food drives after the holidays, the shelters would be depleted and this would be an excellent way to restock them.”

Service Learning student leaders—a special club at the school—wanted to make this drive the most successful in Ritter history. Senior Kyle Palmer thought tying current media into the effort would spur students to participate.

The collection was called “The Fighting Hunger Games” in reference to The Hunger Games, the hit trilogy by Suzanne Collins. All Ritter “tributes”—characters in the series who competed for their district—fought hard by bringing in hundreds of cans.

“So many students came in and brought their donations, it was a little overwhelming, but everyone was smiling,” Hubert says.

The faculty and staff did their part in keeping things interesting. They held friendly competitions between classrooms to see who could donate the most cans, a traditional activity during a drive.

On one day, students were allowed to wear sweats instead of school uniforms if they donated three cans to the cause. Teachers Matt Hollowell and Aaron Hollowell appeared on the Raider news channel, promoting the food drive through a hilarious skit where they confessed the whereabouts of “stolen” items between classrooms.

Through all the fun and games, though, the focus was still on the needy.

“I think it’s nice that we have the prizes and inner competition, but we also promoted this in many ways for students to understand that this is necessary and that it is our obligation as humans to live in solidarity with those less fortunate and provide for them,” Hubert says.

Emily Binhack, a senior and Service Learning student, felt proud to see her fellow classmates answering God’s call.

“It feels really great to be a part of something this big, especially with all the items we collected one day because we can help so many people,” she says. “They [people in need] are a part of the community, and I just feel like a lot more people prosper when the community prospers, so we just need to come together and help each other out.”

Thanks to all the effort and enthusiasm the students and faculty had during this year’s drive, Cardinal Ritter surpassed its goal of 3,200 items by 250 cans. The drive was a hit, and students made a difference in the lives of local residents.

Anthony Ryback, a junior and Service Learning student, reflected on the collection: “I feel like it’s really opened my eyes to seeing the needs of the people around us who might not be as fortunate as I am, and just being able to do something to help them out made this really special.” †

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