FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue High School students and staff took a bite out of hunger when they collected the equivalent of 32,740 pounds of food to help those in need.

The food went to the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, which distributes it to local food pantries around the state to help address food insecurity.

The drive was part of WGME’s School Spirit Challenge. Mt. Blue came in second place in the challenge, beating schools with larger student bodies, said Griffin Mayhew, president of the class of 2018 and the school board student representative.

Other schools in Regional School Unit 9 held separate food drives to benefit local cupboards.

Mayhew was persistent over the past couple of years about having Mt. Blue participate in the challenge. He negotiated with former Principal Bruce Mochamer for authorization to use space in the wrestling room to house the food donations.

The boys’ soccer team laid down a challenge of 500 cans and $500 to other teams at the high school, said Assistant Principal Joel Smith, also the team’s coach.

“I was really proud of them,” Smith said. Businessman John Moore of Narrow Gauge Cinema “gave us movie passes and we sold them,” he said, which gave the team the money to issue the challenge.

About 75 percent to 80 percent of donations were collected by student athletic teams, Mayhew said. A good number of cans and donations also were collected during a districtwide teachers workshop, Smith said.

“We always let (students) know that food was going locally to food banks,” he said. “We focused on that from the start.”

The school challenge rally wasn’t announced until later.

Monetary donations are factored into the food poundage. One dollar equals 5 pounds of food. Initially, a check for $4,000 was given to benefit the food bank but fundraising continued, which brought the total contribution to about $5,200, Smith said.

Businesses around the area contributed so T-shirts could be made for students to sell. Smith said he is thankful for the businesses that always step up to help out.

Franklin Savings Bank, Kyes Insurance, United Insurance (Shiretown Insurance) and University Credit Union all pitched in for the T-shirt project. Black Bear Graphics did the shirts at cost.

The T-shirts sold for $10 each. The students could bring in either $10 or 10 cans for a shirt.

Three hundred to 400 students packed the gymnasium the morning of Oct. 13. They either drove themselves or were driven by parents or upperclassmen, Mayhew said, to arrive at the rally before 6 a.m. That meant some students in outlying towns had to leave home at 4:30 or 4:45 a.m.

It showed that all of the promotion and the behind-the-scenes work and the effort that Coach Smith, Athletic Director Chad Brackett, Principal Monique Poulin and Assistant Principal Todd Demons paid off, Mayhew said.

Neither he nor Smith expected to come in second place in the challenge.

They never knew how much food they collected until it was laid out the day of the rally.

“It exceeded my expectations,” Mayhew said.

Students, families and staff were very generous, Smith said.

Among the contributions were 25 dozen doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts and cinnamon rolls made by parent Betsey Hyde and school nurse Katie Hallman.

Leftover T-shirts were sold at a recent craft fair at the school and raised about $220. It will be given to the local food pantry, Smith said. Ten shirts were left over as of Tuesday.

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