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DMS students collecting nonperishables to donate to the Farmington Food Shelf

As of Monday, the students of Dodge Middle School had donated 1,975 nonperishable items for the school's food drive. The school goal is 2,500 items by the end of this week. The grade that collects the most items gets to watch as DMS phy ed teacher Gregg Rappe, right, has his head shaved.

At one time or another, all Farmington students have learned about the importance of giving to those less fortunate than they are. Regardless of grade level or school building, students have been asked to help others by donating change, clothing, toys or food.

So the food drive at Dodge Middle School is nothing new to students. It's like any other food drive -- they've been asked to bring nonperishables over a two week period -- but this particular collection is going to stay right here in Farmington.

DMS principal Chris Bussman says the decision to do a food drive for the Farmington Food Shelf is a good exercise in giving back to the community. Kids have done projects for nonprofits like Feed My Starving Children or Armful of Love, often the people who benefited from the generosity lived outside the school district's boundaries. Doing a food drive to directly benefit the Farmington Food Shelf, though, keeps it all right at home.

"We asked the question, what can we do to connect with our community? We have a lot of families right here who are in need and some of our own students are impacted," Bussman said.

School staff went on a tour of the Farmington Food Shelf. They saw how the supplies have dwindled since the rush of giving during the holiday season. The need was definitely there, so Bussman took the proposal to the student leadership groups for their thoughts. The students agreed -- a food drive would be a good thing.

The drive started on Jan. 31 and runs through this Friday. The school set a goal of collecting 2,500 items, and as of Monday, students had already brought 1,975 items.

There is a little friendly competition going among the grades. The prize is a bit unusual, though -- the grade that collects the most amount of donations gets to see physical education teacher Gregg Rappe get his head shaved. Rappe's been growing his hair for quite some time this year. So far, Bussman said, the seventh grade is "a couple hundred" items ahead of the sixth and eighth graders. That could change, though, if there is a big push at the end of the week.

Bussman urged students to bring in personal hygeine items because the food shelf also gives those types of things out.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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