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Thankgiving Dinner

Kacie Long and Lukia Afonin, Journalist

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Houston High School has donated cans to the Big Lake Lion’s Canned Food drive since the building of the “new” high school, separating it from the neighboring junior high in 2003. At the high school, this event, dubbed “Canstruction” became a competition between each of the four classes; however it wasn’t as easy as it seemed.

Getting classmates to donate was occasionally a challenge, yet most competitors thought it was an honor to step up their game and help their community. “It shows others that people actually care. Sometimes families go through hard times and some people aren’t there for them, but when people participate in these events, others receive cans of food, and they have hope,” Sophomore President, Bryanna Crawford exclaimed with a smile.

HHS contributions go to the Big Lake Community Food Pantry, or the Emergency Food Pantry in Wasilla, Alaska. Anyone needing assistance may gather canned food for their family meal.  “Although we have collection points all around Big Lake, the Houston High Canstruction Project is the one that continually donates the most food in our Holiday Food Drive. Outstanding job guys!” Kevin Reider, Big Lake Lion’s member, said.  He and his wife, Andrea always come to collect the donations from Houston High.

The class of 2018 added the most cans for the cause this year, with a total of 328 cans. The juniors came in second and brought 231 cans. “My class encouraged each other to collect cans, and we were able to donate over 200, so I definitely think it was easy for us to participate,” Junior President Mary Graham said. “Since last year we only had ten cans.”

Most students didn’t think of it as just a competition though. They knew the real meaning of giving and how it affects others in their community and took it into consideration. “I think donating impacts others by making them have a little more joyful Thanksgiving, instead of not having food as they usually do. Because of Canstruction and our donations, they get to have a happier Thanksgiving!” Leiah Rusher exclaimed.

The Reiders have helped with the Holiday Food Drive for nearly thirty years. They started in 2002, at St. Vincent de Paul Conference in Big Lake and work with the less fortunate by feeding, clothing, and assisting those in need. Mr. Reider had said, “Because I was one of those people who needed a helping hand, in 1983, and received it. My bottom line belief is ‘A person get’s out of life what they put into it.’”

Currently, it has been only Big Lake Elementary and Houston High School who the Big Lake Lion’s Club have asked to participate in their food drives. According to Mr. Reider, “This will change next year; the Big Lake Lion’s is expanding their outreach to schools.” They presently do “vision screening” which has introduced the Lion’s Club to new schools and staff, creating a win-win situation for the community and distressed families. With that, the Big Lake Lions will be able to accommodate the increase in families utilizing their resources.  

The Lion’s Club is international, and the largest service organization in the world, with clubs in 185 countries. Their mission is to help individuals with eye disease, or related illnesses such as vision impairment, who need treatment but cannot afford it. Secondly, they work to improve their communities, as the Big Lake Chapter did three years ago, when the Reiders’ helped to build the Big Lake Lions Recreation Center, with a professional- sized ice rink, so families can enjoy more activities in the community.

Their oldest, Kirsten, also a graduated Houston Hawk,  joined the Lion’s Club Youth Program, called the Leo’s Club, which was voted one of the top ten clubs in the world.  “Talk about being proud!” Kevin Reider proclaimed.

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