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17 local high schools compete in Carolinas Student Hunger Drive to collect food for Second Harvest

In just 90 seconds, Grant Dixon, 17, was able to snag 956 pounds of food, shoving cans, boxes and bags into his shopping cart at the Eastway Drive Food Lion.

Dixon, a Providence High junior, and three other area high school students raced the aisles for the Fast Feet challenge, part of the Carolinas Student Hunger Drive.

“It was really, really fun,” he said. “I saw a big pallet of stuff, and got as much as I could.”

The drive, which began in October and ends Nov. 18, collects nonperishable food for Second Harvest of Metrolina Food Bank. Second Harvest will distribute the food to the hungry near the participating high schools, said Mona Lita Carr, executive director of the drive.

Seventeen area high schools are competing to collect the most food through donations from students, families and staff:

• A.L. Brown

• Ardrey Kell

• Butler

• Cannon

• Cabarrus/Kannapolis Early College

• Cox Mill

• East Mecklenburg

• Fort Mill

• Leadership & Public Service High at Garinger

• Hickory Ridge

• Independence

• Myers Park

• Nation Ford

• North Mecklenburg

• Northwest Cabarrus

• Providence

• South Mecklenburg

The four Fast Feet school participants earned the chance to compete by netting the most “likes” on Facebook for their schools’ talent skit performances.

The skits were mostly musical: South Mecklenburg students changed the words from Psy’s “Gangnam Style” (“South, south, south, south Meck, this is donate time!”), while East Mecklenburg went a capella (with a drum) and sang about hunger to Fun.’s “Some Nights.”

Ardrey Kell and Myers Park both did raps (Myers Park’s to the tune of “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air), and called each other out onstage to heighten the competition.

“It’s really competitive this year. It’s great,” said Mackenzie Lewis, a junior at Butler.

As Butler’s project coordinator for the drive, Mackenzie has organized penny wars between the classes and handed out fliers.

Grant, at Providence, said the school’s clubs have been having contests to see which club can bring in the most cans.

“It’s really cool to see when a school comes together for a good cause,” he said. “This is a huge deal for Providence.”

Since Carolinas Students Hunger Drive began in the Charlotte area in 2010, high school students have collected about 243,000 pounds of food, Carr said. They collected 112,000 pounds last year.

The top-collecting schools will be announced Nov. 18 at an awards rally at Second Harvest.

The first-place school wins a $2,000 cash prize, and the runner-up receives $1,000, Carr said. A teacher adviser will be chosen to win a $500 travel gift card. A scholarship will go to a student who demonstrated excellent leadership.

Carr said she’s been impressed with all of the participating schools.

Feeding America, a national hunger-relief group, estimates that 18.8 percent of Mecklenburg County has food insecurity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s term for a lack of access, at times, to food required for a healthy lifestyle.

Mackenzie said no matter the size of contributions – in the form of change or cans – she’s glad to see so many classmates who want to help others.

“Everyone is getting really involved,” she said. “It’s so awesome right now.”

Ruebens: 704-358-5294; Twitter: @lruebens
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