Feelhaver Elementary began its yearly food drive on Dec. 1, this year helped by its newly formed Character Council.
The council is a group of six students, one from each of the school's second-, third- and fourth-grade classrooms, who are chosen by their teachers for showing good character in school, Kim Bodholdt, counselor, said.
"What we do as a Character Council is they help me plan, organize and implement community service projects throughout our school or other activities that are school-based," she said.
-Messenger photo by Brandon L. Summers
Joey Kelley, left, and MaKenzi Charlson, members of Feelhaver Elementary’s Character Council, tidy the donations brought by their classmates for the school’s annual food drive.
The council's current project is a holiday food drive to benefit the Lord's Cupboard in Fort Dodge.
"We are doing our food drive that we do every year, but this year the Character Council is helping me plan it, count the items. They're going to help me with the party for the classroom that brings the most food and then they're also going to help me deliver the food to the Lord's Cupboard," Bodholdt said.
Ryan Flaherty, Feelhaver Elementary principal, challenged each of the classes to bring in more food items than him every day. Flaherty has been bringing in as many as 17 items per day, but still hasn't won a challenge yet.
"I'm hoping I can win one of them, but so far I haven't been able to beat anyone so far," he said. "I've gotten creamed a couple of times."
With the lessons the students are learning and the amount of donations being brought in, there are no losers in this contest, Flaherty said.
According to Bodholdt, the students are more than eager to help with the drive.
"They've really taken ahold and are going with it, the excitement of helping others and the idea of the challenge between the classrooms, who can bring the most," she said. "But also, in the end realizing that they're helping others in the community who are less fortunate."
Already, the elementary school is on target to surpass its previous totals for items donated, Bodholdt said.
"I had one classroom tell me that they have 95 food items already, just for that one classroom," she said. "Each classroom is in a competition against all the other classrooms. There will be a little party put on by the Character Council for the classroom that wins."
It's important for students to learn the value of helping others and their community, Bodholdt said.
"I think the younger we can instill that in kids, the better off we are," she said. "I think we do that in a lot of different ways and the food drive is one we do every year, but the Character Council this year is going to do a community service project each quarter, which is something we haven't always done."
Flaherty said seeing the donations lined ahead of the school's entryway and along its walls, stacked so high, is a heartening sight.
"I'm extremely proud of the students," he said. "And I know we've been doing this for a lot of years, but it's awfully exciting to see them taking an interest in helping out in their community and understand the importance of giving. It's a really exciting thing."