SOUTH CHINA — Responding to a challenge issued by the Jobs for Maine Graduates students of Cony High School in Augusta to their peers at Erskine Academy, the school exceeded the 1,000 box challenge, raising 3,544 boxes of cereal for its local food pantries.

Given only two weeks (one while the school was operating fully remote), Erskine’s goal of 1,334 boxes of cereal (one more than Cony High’s recorded total) was more than doubled. On April 5, cereal boxes were lined up to create a domino-effect spiral beginning at the headmaster’s desk, running through the school and to the gym. The live-streamed release event took over nine minutes from start to finish.

Immediately following the domino event, students and staff delivered the cereal to food pantries in China, Vassalboro, Chelsea, Whitefield, Jefferson, Windsor, and Palermo, the sending communities to Erskine Academy. The school then challenged two JMG program schools, Skowhegan Area High and Mt. View High, to keep the charitable momentum going with their cereal drives.

Though led by Erskine’s students and faculty, the campaign became a broader community event supported substantially by families, area middle schools, alumni, and many area businesses and organizations.

“The Cereal Box Challenge was for a great cause and was presented to us at a time when we need each other, especially when it comes to being nourished – body, heart, and spirit,” Headmaster Michael McQuarrie said in a news release. “We thank Cony High’s JMG students for inspiring the Erskine community with a little friendly competition, and through it, Erskine’s values of stewardship, leadership, and relationships were evident. The work ethic, inspiration, and idealism of our young people are humbling and heartening.”

Known for its philanthropic spirit, Erskine in 2016 was a WGME13/Fox23’s School Spirit Champion for having raised nearly 85,000 pounds of food for distribution by Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine. In 2018, Erskine repeated its efforts to win the School Spirit Tournament of Champions, raising a record 196,696 pounds of food. “We engaged with our rural Central Maine communities to provide a critical community service — fighting hunger in Maine,” McQuarrie said.