‘Working together we are better,’ St. John Community School floods in donations for the food bank.

Students from each grade at St. John Community School pose around the food they raised for the Prince Albert food bank. –Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

Students at St. John Community School participated in a “reverse Advent calendar,” where instead of receiving, they gave, and in a big way.

In total, 2,748 food donations were brought in by students in all grades, and an additional $467.05 in cash donations. All food and money raised went directly to the Prince Albert Food Bank.

Representatives were overwhelmed by the amount of food stacked up to be delivered, and school principal Mark Cantin was surprised by how his students rose to the occasion.

“I was expecting it to be a lot, but not this much,” Cantin said. “This is the most food we’ve ever raised for the food bank. Our school has a tradition of being super generous, but the generosity this year was amped up.”

Teachers in the school’s Student Leadership Council, led by Karla Orieux, Caitlin Thalheimer, and Amber Scragg, set up the fundraiser. They also threw a pizza party for the highest raising classroom, and Cantin said the extra motivation helped bring out the best in the kids.

“Everyone has some sort of competitive edge,” he said. “There was some good natured competition for this project. I think ultimately just helping people out was the main reason we ended up with so much food. But at the same time, everyone loves a pizza party so that definitely helped.”

With the outstanding amount of food raised, Cantin explained how even donations from students from grade one to grade four were significant in their own way.

“I think with our younger kids, part of this process is teaching them stewardship and what it means to help out other people,” he explained. “And of course their parents contribute because they know that there is a need in our city. The combination of the kids and the families that they’re connected to is the result of the amount of food that we collected today.”

With the cold weather approaching for the holidays, Cantin noted a couple of factors that encouraged students to bring in as many donations as they could.

“We know that the cost of food is rising. We know that there is a major need in our community as a result of that. Our kids love to be generous and help people out. We had an excellent end product.”

Cantin believes with the amount of support shown by the entire St. John staff and student team, it will help the kids grow into mature young adults in the future.

“Our mandate as a Catholic school is to teach kids what it means to help others, and what stewardship is. What would Christ want us to do for others,” he explained. “As a Catholic school, I think a project like this just fits so well. The result with the amount of food we collected is a product of what we’re trying do here as a Catholic school.”

All food items raised as well as cash donations were picked up by representatives of the Prince Albert food bank on Friday morning.