Yes we can


15,000 cans to make hundreds of hearts happy: this is the donation goal for Concord High School’s annual canned food drive.
Students will begin collecting cans Wednesday, Dec. 3, to help the nonprofit Capital Region Food Program give struggling families two weeks’ worth of food just in time for the holidays.
Need is great. Some 24% of American children suffer from food insecurity, or not knowing where they will get their next meal. In Merrimack County, 14,060 people live in poverty.
The Capital Region Food Program has been helping families with holiday gift baskets for 41 years. All donated food goes directly to Concord families in need.
Last year the program collected, purchased and distributed about 100 tons of food, according to the organization’s website.
“It’s a 100% volunteer-run organization. Everything is either donated or volunteered,” said CHS teacher Kristina Peare, an organizer who has been involved with this cause for 14 years.
Peare, who taught one of the children of the family who founded the Capital Region Food Program, said Concord High plays “a small but important part” in collection donations for the community. The 10,000 cans of food the CHS community donated last year represented only 6% of the food donated to Capital Region Food Program as a whole.
This year, to entice donations of 15,000 cans, CHS staff organizers are planning on upping their game by offering amusing incentives for students.
IMG_0639 (2)“If everyone supports, you’ll see some jorts,” said Andrew Grondin (at left), a CHS senior whose alias is the mighty “Green Giant” Can Man.
Some promised milestones will be social studies teacher Chris Herr dying his beard (color to be decided) when 5,000 cans have been collected. Fellow social studies teacher Chrigus Boezeman and math teacher Judy Batchelder will dress up as Ziggy Stardust from the 80’s once 7,500 cans are brought in, and most faculty members have agreed to wear ridiculous outfits, maybe including spirit animal t-shirts, when CHS reaches its goal.
“There’s very little I wouldn’t be willing to do,” laughed science teacher Lise Bofinger, who, like Peare, has been involved with the drive for years.  “I’ll do silly things, that’s for sure. Anything for a good cause!”
Senior Lucy Eills, one of the main student organizers of the event, said other creative ideas include “Moolah Mondays,” based in part on the reality that “cans are heavy and your backpack would be particularly heavy on a skinny Monday [when all eight classes meet, one after the other] so we have people bring cash.”
“Capital Region Food can turn our money into more food” because lots of families have specialized needs that might not be addressed through donations, said social studies teacher Becky Robinson, another faculty helper.
Capital Region Food Program can buy these necessities as necessary, saving money by buying in bulk.
Another fun way students, staff and even parents can participate in this year’s drive is to attend Comedy Night Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. All proceeds from the event will benefit this cause. Tickets are on sale for $3 plus one can of food at all lunches and at the door.
People will also be able to get in without a can of food by paying $5 at the door.
“I think we’ll reach our goal because we have a lot of incentives this year and I have faith in our school and this very motivated community,” said Grondin.
To help make participation a really personal cause, the organizing team will ask faculty members to skip a meal one day to underscore why our school is helping prevent hunger in our community.
“For some people its so easy to contribute yet they don’t, and some people that really understand the need give a lot. I just wish more kids could see the picture of what [hunger] really looks like,” said Tamara Hatcher, a math teacher who has been involved with Concord High’s food drive for five years.
“The year I got the most money and cans from my kids, two came up to me and said, ‘We’re really happy we could contribute this year,’ because they had both received [donations] other years,” Hatcher said.
“I think it’s really good for kids to feel like they’re part of the community and see that they’re part of Concord and all kids can help in little ways,” said Bofinger.