As the giving season begins, Gering Junior High School students and staff are doing their part to give back. In support of the Gift of Love, the GJHS Builders Club has asked staff and students to collect various non-perishable food items not only to help the program provide meals to families throughout the holidays, but also for a competition between the grades and staff.

If any of the grade levels or the staff meet the goal of 500 cans by the Dec. 2 deadline, they will receive a pizza party. As a school, the goal is 2,000 cans of food and as of Monday morning, they had collected 1,200 cans.

Builders Club officers are responsible for checking with teachers for classroom counts during lunchtime and updating the totals.

“We also go and promote the canned food drive to flex classes, which is like a home room,” Aleigh Portenier said.

Portenier and Kelsey Brady are in their second year helping with the Builder’s Club fundraiser and Mason Barrett is in his first year.

Since collecting food beginning Nov. 4, Brady said she hopes her fellow Bulldogs learn about giving back.

“I hope our school can realize how helpful it is to give back,” she said.

Several teachers are offering extra credit when students bring in food as another incentive to give. Portenier said it’s just a great way to give to others who are less fortunate.

“Some people don’t have the things that you have and you need to give more than you receive,” she said.

The students said through their involvement in the Builder’s Club drive, they’ve learned not to be selfish and that everyone can spare a can of green beans to help someone.

With the final week of the drive shortened because of the holiday break, the Builder’s Club remains hopeful they will achieve their goal. Portenier, Barrett and Brady sorted the food Monday in the sixth grade commons area, in an area blocked off by caution tape.

For Builder’s Club adviser Natalie Prokop, she is confident in the students’ and staff’s abilities to achieve the goal and hopes to gather as much food as possible.

“Our goal for Gift of Love is to have as much food as possible because Gift of Love does it by weight,” Prokop said. “We are having a competition with the school, if we can get over 2,000 cans, Mr. (Shawn) Seiler will dress like Mrs. (Julie) Siebke for a day.”

Seiler would dress up as Siebke, who is the dean of students.

Gift of Love volunteers will pick up the collected items across the valley on Dec. 6 as they package meals into baskets for local families.

“We’ll box up all the goods and they’ll come and take them,” Barrett said.

We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.

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