The schools collected thousands of cans and dollars for their communities in December

This holiday season, Newberg and McMinnville high schools fostered a new kind of rivalry — one that has little to do with sports but may have a significant impact on families throughout northwest Oregon.

In lieu of basketball, wrestling or swimming, students from the two schools competed in a can drive in December. It was the first year Newberg and McMinnville faced each other in this charitable challenge and McMinnville dominated.

The infrastructure for success was already in place for McMinnville, according to NHS activities director Holly Miele, who added that Newberg is in the early stages of getting the community involved. It is an effort that requires involvement from community members as much as students.

"In just dollars alone, (McMinnville) earned $10,000 last year, so we knew this was going to be a huge challenge," Miele said. "We ended up losing the challenge this year, but we did so much great work for our community."

Both schools accepted non-perishable food and cash donations. Most cans and other food items counted for one "point," while some larger items counted for two. Money raised was multiplied by two before being added to the point total.

McMinnville amassed 5,465 food points and $11,252 in cash donations for a total of 27,969 points. Newberg had 7,091 food points and $2,448 raised for a total of 11,987 points.

"We couldn't compete with McMinnville," Miele said. "They have this established tradition in their community and so people look out for that. We want to establish that here in Newberg."

Despite the loss in a friendly competition, Miele said she's proud of the students for making a difference in their community. The cans and other food items collected filled up an entire classroom at NHS, she said, and Newberg FISH picked up the items and monetary donations on Thursday.

Establishing a yearly can drive tradition in the Newberg community will be the focus in the coming years. This year was something to build on, Miele said, adding that the attitude displayed by students was encouraging.

"The community shows up in huge ways when people just try to do something as simple as meeting the needs of others," she said. "Everybody banded together and even though it wasn't enough to beat McMinnville, we had an entire classroom full of food for families in need."

Schools in brief

Addressing heating concerns in NHS

The Newberg School District sent out a message Dec. 18 outlining its plans for heating Newberg High School, among other buildings. The district said it has received feedback on heating issues during the winter months, particularly in some rooms at NHS. According to the message, the HVAC system in the high school was "evaluated, repaired and updated where possible." Maintenance staff has been taking data in various rooms throughout the school and is noting problem spots that need adjustment. NSD recommends sending children to school in warm, winter clothes in the event of heating problems at elementary, middle and high schools in the district.

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