Winners of the Drive Away Hunger Challenge Middle School Edition, hosted by the Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group, were recently presented with checks and trophies for their outstanding participation in the food drive.

Woodland Middle School won the prize for the highest total number of pounds, with Hillsboro School winning the most pounds of food per student. Both schools received checks for $1,250.

Between the twelve schools, over 9,000 local students were challenged with collecting donations for GraceWork’s fuel bag program, a program that offers weekend nutrition to students in Williamson County. With the almost 18,000 lbs of food and donations collected by the middle schools and the 19,730 pounds the high schools collected back in February, the Drive Away Hunger Challenge brought in a whopping 37,334 pounds of food and donations for GraceWorks in 2014.

“It is a great privilege to partner with Franklin Special, GraceWorks, and Darrell Waltrip Automotive for such a worthy cause,” shared Dr. Charles Farmer, Assistant Superintendent of Williamson County Schools. “I believe part of the learning process is good citizenship. Giving back to our community is an integral part of this. We look forward to future community partnerships.”

“The staff and volunteers from GraceWorks’ food pantry are thrilled with the partnership with the Williamson County and Franklin Special School District intermediate and middle schools and Darrell Waltrip Automotive,” said Susan Reagan, Operations Director for GraceWorks. “The food collected from this challenge will go directly into our Fuel Bags. Since we are now giving out about 650 Fuel Bags a week, a staggering amount for us, we appreciate every donation that comes our way!”

Each school created interesting and clever ways to spread the word to their students and communities about the challenge.

Paula Burdette, a 7th grade Language Arts teacher at Woodland and a chief coordinator for their food drive, shared that they held competitions among homerooms at each grade-level. They also showed a PowerPoint at the beginning of the drive to show students what to bring, for whom, and why. Their Student Council made and hung poster announcements, and the school ran the drive in their daily announcement email to parents.

Kami Johnson, counselor at Hillsboro, is new to Williamson County. Her fresh enthusiasm brought great energy to Hillsboro’s efforts. Their winning strategy was to have a grade level homeroom competition with the winning class receiving a donut party. Kami also put posters up and updated the totals each day so everyone could see who was in the lead. She also partnered with Kroger who donated 1,500 grocery bags for the students to leave with their neighbors. She felt this led to greater community involvement.

Sunset and Freedom Middle were very close contenders. A creative group of Freedom Middle students developed the clever idea to sell orders for tootsie roll ghost pops at lunchtime for delivery on Halloween.

“We appreciate the opportunity to continue to have students involved in worthwhile community endeavors,” said Dr. David Snowden, Director of Franklin Special School District. “I was so impressed by the efforts of the FSSD and the Williamson County middle school students in this food drive. Thanks to Graceworks and Darrell Waltrip Automotive and thanks to all who were involved in this effort from both school districts.”

Other honorable mentions in the challenge include Sunset Middle School with 3,795 lbs., Freedom Middle School with 2,485 lbs. and Spring Station Middle School with 1,526 lbs.

The third annual Drive Away Hunger Challenge for WCS High Schools will kick off next week and running  from February 2-13.

For more information about the challenge visit DarrellWaltrip.com/HungerChallenge

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