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HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - The 47 students in Hillsboro High Schools leadership class are responsible for organizing Hilhi student bodys efforts to collect 30,000 cans for the districts food drive and the kickoff assembly, which is meant to fire up Hilhis 1,443 students to join in the effort.Every year, the Hillsboro School District holds its competitive canned food drive.

Every year, the four local high schools cooperatively raise more than 100,000 cans of food for Hillsboro families in need of assistance.

But this year, something is a little different.

While a trophy was created in 2003 –– and has unfailingly been passed between the schools for more than a decade to honor the one that collected the most cans — this year the trophy doesn't seem to be a significant reason for participating in the drive.

"While winning the trophy is privately important and fun, I really try to convey the message that to lead is to serve," said Hilhi Activities Director Sarah Cole. "If the kids focus too much on the contest, they might lose sight of the objective."

This year's "objective" is helping the 800 families who submitted requests for assistance through the Hillsboro Family Resource Center.

And while the donations have always gone to help Hillsboro families, there has recently been a perspective shift among the collective HSD student body: The students now seem to realize their peers and classmates belong to some of those families.

"I've worked hard to move my leadership class away from just poster making," said Glencoe High School Activities Director Charles "Butch" Self, whose class mantra –– which all 42 of his leadership students seem to have memorized –– is if you have an ability to serve, you have an obligation to serve.

"It's a good competition," Self said of the food drive. "But most these kids are here to help." HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - Hillsboro High Schools senior class dances as part of Hilhis canned food drive kickoff assembly on Friday, Dec. 4. To reach its goal, each student is asked to bring 18 cans of food before the Dec. 15 cutoff date.

Each school adds its own goals and incentives for its students to achieve, such as teacher humiliations and student perks — but that's mostly to inspire the students who may not have reached that same level of maturity and awareness as those in each school's leadership class.

Overall, 6,100 students are involved in the project district-wide this fall — and they're making the most of it in a variety of ways.

For example, Century High School's wrestling coach, Guy Takahashi, has committed to wax his legs if Century's students reach 15,000 cans. At Hilhi, teachers have offered to teach their classes in tutus, dressed as the schools mascot Sparty the Spartan, or in full-on character as Harry Potter's potions professor, Severus Snape. And at Glencoe, Self has offered to go so far as to get a tattoo if the students raise 32,000 cans.

Self, however, will retain creative control, he said.

"There are students who are passionate on their own, but others need that little push," said Hilhi Associate Student Body Treasurer Karli Castilliano, who added that involving freshman students in the food drive early on goes a long way toward how they participate throughout their high school careers.HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - Along with other Glencoe leadership students, Sydney Sahlfeld (front right) and Natalie Creagh-Grave (front left) bring in bags and boxes of non-perishable food items to contribute to Glencoes goal of 32,000 cans for the districts food drive.

"There's been a lack of passion [for the drive] in recent years," said Glencoe's Senior Class Vice President Joel Biamont. "We're trying to spark that passion again."

"I think our kids are a little more aware of the economy," said Century Activities Director Julie Kasper. "They take the responsibility of helping Hillsboro families very seriously."

While the competition may have fueled student involvement 10 years ago, Kasper said, it's become more about community compassion.

"Some of us don't think twice about what meal we're going to have next," said Hilhi Student Body President Connor Grover. "It's important to keep perspective of the less fortunate and to give back."

During last year's food drive, Grover went door-to-door collecting cans in Hillsboro's Rosedale area. The woman who answered the door at one of the houses he visited told him she was unable to contribute because she had actually signed up to receive one of the donated food boxes.

To donate, each school accepts food and money at their main offices, and also sends students to local grocery stores to collect from shoppers. Hilhi students can be found at the Albertsons in Aloha; Glencoe at Grocery Outlet; Century at the Albertsons on Southwest Baseline Street at Cornelius Pass Road; and Liberty High is at the Albertsons near the Hillsboro Airport. HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - Glencoe High School leadership students Becca McInally and Tara Martin prepare a poster advertising Glencoes car smash, a fundraiser for the schools canned food drive.

In a video created by Century's Care Team Committee and narrated by senior student Josiah Sheffer, students were challenged to truly consider what the food drive is all about.

"If you want to help your class win the competition, or beat the other Hillsboro schools, or win a date with somebody at the auction –– all that stuff is great," Sheffer said. "It's OK to want to achieve those goals and have fun.

"But know what you're doing. Know who you're helping. Know that it's tangible and it's all around you.

"Make it about us working together to help each other."

Barrels in classrooms are packed full of canned goods in local high schools.

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