11,565 cans for SHEM

Last Thursday Hawthorne Principal Ryan Beck looked at the food collected by students and other members of the school community and decided it was going to be a down year.

The school had collected food for SHEM for the last two years, reaching 5,300 items last year. It had become a big deal, as Oregon State University fans faced off with the University of Oregon bloc among teachers, students, staff and parents to see who could collect the most cans. Cheerleaders and mascots from both universities have made appearances each of the last three years and this year each school sent approximately half a dozen cheer squad members, along with Benny the Beaver and the Duck.

The event is one of the awards students get for maintaining good records of positive, responsible behavior in the school’s PBS program, Beck said. He said 306 children participated this year.

The competition was intense. The Ducks were led by counselor Terry Augustadt and teacher Chemen Clearwaters, while Title 1 teacher Delise Rose headed up the Beavers. Each year, bets have been made and Augustadt didn’t want to lose – again after the OSU contingent has won each of the past two years.

Last year he had to get his head shaved at a school assembly after the Beavers collected more cans, and in 2008 he had to dress up as a Beavers cheerleader.

This time it was a hair-dye job on the line. The loser gets to dye his or her hair the opposing team’s colors in front of the entire school and the winners will also dictate what the loser will wear on the Friday of the Civil War game.

“He was pretty motivated not to lose,” Beck said of Augustadt. “Though that was pretty tame compared to last year, when he had his head shaved.”

But as of Thursday night, 12 hours before the deadline, only 3,000 items had been gathered. And though there were whispers that some surprises might happen Friday, Beck said he wasn’t optimistic.

“I didn’t think we’d get there,” he said.

But Friday morning, the Beavers delivered a couple of truck loads of cans and other packaged food. Then, late in the morning, students heard honking out on the playground.

Scott Johnson, manager of Sweet Home Sanitation and a big Ducks fan, had pulled in with the Duck Truck, a sanitation truck converted into a giant tailgate center, loaded with 4,200 cans.

“Nobody really knew what was coming,” Beck said. “We kind of knew something big was coming. It was amazing. We went from 3,000 food items Thursday to 11,565 on Friday.”

The Sweet Home High School basketball team helped unload and sort the food at the school, then they loaded it up on a school bus for the trip to SHEM, where the team members unloaded it all.

Rice wrote an e-mail to the school stating: “WOW… that hardly sums up our shock and awe over the tremendous response for the Hawthorne School Food Drive. The bus, the truck and the garbage truck filled with canned food was just incredible!”

She said the food totaled 8,247 pounds and Beck said $800 in cash was delivered to SHEM on Monday. The food strained SHEM’s storage capacity, Beck and others said.

The principal said he’s not sure what’s next.

“It was a community effort we had,” he said. “I was really impressed by the parent turnout. The checks just kept coming in. We had a man drive up, at the last minute, and drop off 804 cans that added on to the total.

“I told Cindy I have no idea how we’ll top this next year. Every year I say that and every year we somehow manage.

“It’s amazing how much the community and school stepped up.”