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The gymnasium at St. Thomas More was packed with donated food items in donated beer cases last Halloween. Photo courtesy St. Thomas More Catholic SS

Food drive aiming for scary heights

  • October 25, 2017
100K in one day… that’s the motto — and the goal — at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School in Hamilton. 

It has nothing to do with distance or dollars, but everything to do with helping their neighbours. This year, students hope to collect 100,000 pounds of food for charity. 

The campaign, appropriately named We Scare Hunger, happens every Halloween at St. Thomas More. What started as a school event called Halloween for Hunger in 2000 has become a community tradition.

The school gymnasium acts as a drop-off zone for food donations. Students also go door to door collecting non-perishable food items for the Neighbour 2 Neighbour Centre. 

“People in Hamilton know, it’s Halloween. You’ve got to get your candy and your canned goods ready,” said Chloe Frias, a Grade 11 student and executive committee member for We Scare Hunger. Frias has been volunteering at the event since Grade 6. “Walking into the cafeteria and seeing all the food we’d collected was so inspiring. I was taught from a young age to help my neighbours so this is one of the ways I can give back.” 

Student volunteers canvas 23,000 homes on Oct. 31. Last year, they collected 83,000 pounds of food. They hope to break the six-figure mark this year.

“We’re always aiming for the stars,” said John Morelli, a religion teacher and advisor for We Scare Hunger. “We’re looking to collect as much food as possible. The need is still here. If anything, it’s getting worse.”

The Neighbour 2 Neighbour Centre supports over 6,000 residents in the city of Hamilton, almost half of them children. 

“What is so amazing about We Scare Hunger is that some of the students at our school actually go to Neighbour 2 Neighbour,” said Joshua Sebastian, Grade 12 student and senior director for We Scare Hunger. “You could be helping someone who is literally your neighbour or sits next to you in class.”

We Scare Hunger is a student-led initiative. There are 16 student executive committee members, five teacher advisors and 850 volunteers. 

“We advertise heavily within our school with posters and on social media,” said Frias. “To encourage parents, we hand out flyers around the community. We are especially in need of volunteers who can drive the students around to different neighbourhoods.”

The executive committee members are like family to Sebastian, who has been volunteering since Grade 9. “When we’re working together and bouncing ideas off of each other, I feel like we can accomplish so much. I think we could develop this into a nationwide or even a global movement.”

In addition to canned goods, We Scare Hunger also accepts personal care items, baby food, diapers, jarred spreads, pasta and rice. Fresh produce is also accepted. 

“And the kids won’t turn down candy either,” said Morelli, laughing. 

Keeping with the Halloween spirit, volunteers are encouraged to wear a costume. 

This will be the fourth year WE co-founder Marc Kielburger will be at St. Thomas More on Halloween to give the students an inspirational “pump-up” assembly. 

“We’re honoured to have Marc and we’re tickled pink to have all of these people come and recognize what it is we do. The students have worked so hard organizing this event,” said Morelli.

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