It was 5:30 AM on Friday, September 18, and the Student Union was abuzz! The sports teams, the kitchen crew, faculty, the head of school, and 150 screaming students came out for a pep rally to support the Good Shepherd Food Bank through the WGME Channel 13 School Spirit Challenge. It was the kick-off of a two-month drive to collect as many pounds of food as possible to help out the 40,000 Maine families who are only one meal away from hunger.
The WGME Channel 13 School Spirit Challenge pits nine Maine high schools against each other to see who can raise the most food for the Good Shepherd Food Bank. Last year, Gould Academy donated over 100,000 pounds of food to the cause and won the challenge.
The chanting began, “P! Pump it up, pump it up, H-O, E-N-I-X we’ll beat the rest! Phoenix, Phoenix, the best!” The theater was filled with students, faculty, and staff, all out to raise the roof of the Student Union. The camera crews caught footage of the chanting, cheering, smiling, and very energetic student body. Students had their faces painted in blue and gold, donned their sports jerseys, and raised over-sized cut-outs of their coaches’ heads. Newscaster Jeff Peterson highlighted each sports team, the representative from the Good Shepherd Food Bank, the Robotics team robot, the international students, and college counselor Lori Hobart who spread the news about the next day’s food drive to be held at Shaw’s. He also highlighted Hyde’s performing arts – the band, Bill Liu on piano, and a team dance. Even 88-year-old founder Joseph Gauld got to lead Hyde in a cheer which was broadcast live.
Hyde School has a long history of supporting the mobile food truck in Bath; last year students raised more than three truck-loads of food for the area food bank and gave time and organizing help to the Bath food pantry. Each year students help distribute food at the mobile food truck, and in 2012 they arranged a non-stop relay race, “Flight of the Phoenix,” between the Bath, Maine and the Woodstock, Connecticut Hyde campuses that raised $6,000 for the local food pantry. This year the students, faculty, and staff are embarking on their biggest project yet with the School Spirit Challenge.
The first major fundraiser was the day after the pep rally, Saturday at Shaw’s. Students, faculty, and staff set up a table at the entranceway and handed out flyers to weekend shoppers listing the items the food pantry was looking for – canned pasta such as ravioli, boxed mac and cheese, pasta sauce, baked beans, soup, canned meat such as chicken or tuna fish, and peanut butter. Shoppers were happy to have the list of those most-needed items and donated them by the bagful on their way out of the store! Then the Hyde volunteers sorted the donations into boxes and transferred them to the Good Shepherd Food truck which was parked in front of the store.
Some shoppers chose to give cash donations, which were also appreciated. At the end of the day, Hyde collected 1,976 pounds of food and $676 dollars, equaling a total of 5,356 pounds for the food bank.
Students will continue to collect food and cash for the Challenge. A $1.00 donation to the Good Shepherd Food Bank will purchase five pounds of food. Students will also donate the money raised on Friday Jeans day (where they can pay $2.00 to wear jeans instead of academic dress) to the fund. Future fundraisers are being planned.