Hockinson Middle School students shine in food drive


Students are having a record-breaking season, collecting canned food for those in need

The food drive at Hockinson Middle School is back after a year’s absence in the pandemic, and it is back better than ever.

Canned food and other non-perishable items have been filling up a classroom at the middle school, and teacher Joe Loper is counting every item, giving a score for each home base at the school. (A home base at Hockinson is similar to a home room.) The students in the home base that brings in the most food get to deliver the food to the fire department.

Students at Hockinson Middle School have been busy with the annual community food drive. The school has collected more than 7,000 items. Photo by Paul Valencia
Students at Hockinson Middle School have been busy with the annual community food drive. The school has collected more than 7,000 items. Photo by Paul Valencia

Technically, it is Clark County Fire District 3 that puts on the food drive. Hockinson Middle School, a short walk from the fire department, gets involved, too.

Loper took over the food drive at the school in 2015. He said that year, the school brought in a little more than 1,000 items.

There was no drive at the school in 2020, but from 2017 to 2019, Loper said Hockinson Middle School donated 4,000 items each year.

Well, this year, Hockinson might need a bigger truck to deliver the food.

“Right now, we’re over 5,000,” Loper said last week. “I’ll be surprised if we don’t hit 6,000 this year. I’m running out of boxes. That’s my bottleneck right now is boxes.”

Well, he was off, by about 1,000.

Hockinson Middle School students stack cans as they help in the annual community food drive. Photo by Paul Valencia
Hockinson Middle School students stack cans as they help in the annual community food drive. Photo by Paul Valencia

This week’s tally, with a day to go in the food drive, is 7,197 items, according to Meredith Gannon, the school’s principal.

Brady Clark, a seventh grader, is one of the student leaders who has brought in a number of items.

“So kids in needs, families in need, can get food to eat,” Clark said. 

He added that the school makes it a fun event, as well, with the home base competition. The winning base gets to deliver the food and receives a small trophy. But Clark and the other students are not doing this for any recognition.

Loper said the school uses time during home base to teach about community service and as a way to help young people become better citizens.

The food drive is “a great way to get the kids involved and understand how to give back a little bit,” he said.

Clark County Fire District 3 is just a short walk from Hockinson Middle School. Hockinson students will deliver more than 7,000 items of food to the department on Friday. Photo by Paul Valencia
Clark County Fire District 3 is just a short walk from Hockinson Middle School. Hockinson students will deliver more than 7,000 items of food to the department on Friday. Photo by Paul Valencia

Not just the students. The families. Clark gave his mom credit. Whenever she has free time, she is heading to Costco, he said, to buy more food to donate.

The entire project makes Gannon proud to be the principal.

“Our community has been so generous. This really highlights the generosity of our Hockinson families and of our kids,” Gannon said. “I’m really impressed. I’ve never seen a food drive so well organized. Mr. Loper spends an extraordinary amount of time making this happen for our school.”

Loper looked around at the classroom, food all over the place.

“I don’t know if organized is what you call it right now,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a little bit chaotic.”

Soon, though, all the food will be delivered. 

Thursday is the last day of the drive at the middle school. On Friday, the final school day before winter break, students from the winning home base will load the food to the truck, then help unload the food at the fire department. 

It already is a record-breaking year for Hockinson Middle School.

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