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The high school I teach at has a motto of “As One.”

Every year, our high school has a contest to see which class can collect the most cans or non-perishable food items to feed people in our own community over the Christmas break…kids who otherwise would not eat because school isn’t open to feed them breakfast and lunch.

I have never been one to want to win a contest about giving to others, so I opted to share my heart with my students. I informed them that there would be about 400 families in our county that needed food for the baskets, and about 40 of those families were from the high school they attend.

Because students often forget to bring in canned food items (in reality, they often forget bringing in something as important as homework and projects), I offered them a compromise.

On Fridays, students can buy two fresh baked cookies for $1.00. I asked them to remember to bring in food for the box or maybe give up their dollar for cookie Friday, and I would take their collected money and go buy food to fill our box. The kids loved the idea!

It was the best of both worlds for them….they didn’t have to remember to bring something in, and they could help others.

Some of them asked if they could give money right then instead of waiting until Friday, and of course, I said yes.

Within minutes, these old children…these young adults….these high schoolers came to me with tens, twenties, fives, and one young man handed me several folded bills.


I couldn’t contain myself. Tears welled in my eyes.

After all was said and done, they had handed me a total of $50.00…..and that was with only 15 students in the room.

When I brought in the food the next class period, they were amazed at what I was able to purchase at a warehouse club store. They were things that I thought kids would like to eat….not just canned vegetables.

When the announcement was made a few days later as to who the winner was, it wasn’t us; but my students, whom I lovingly call my kids, knew they had won.

They cheered for the winning class. I cheered for them.

In a day and age when teenagers get a bad wrap for being self-absorbed, inconsiderate, apathetic, materialistic, and any other negative adjective that may come to pass, these kids showed me that they can be empathetic to basic human needs and came together “As One” to do it.

In the end, it reminded me how much I like teenagers.