Middle School creates new type of canned food drive

Joe Lister

Joe Lister ’21, Cole Cherian ’22

The middle school discovered a way to collect cans and have fun while doing it.

In a unique spin on the traditional canned food drive, the Middle School turned this year’s collection into a game.

Middle School Head Patrick Sillup described the resulting collection of about 1500 pounds of cans as “extraordinary.”

Sillup credits the idea to two students, Bobby Becket ’20 and Teddy Hawke ’20, two students in the Leadership and Christian Service groups. “They had seeded this idea of, hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we sort of gamified this canned collection,” Sillup said.

The students thought this could be a good sevice opportunity for the Middle School. “We decided it was a fun way to incorporate a break from normal activities in the Middle School, and also to do service at the same time,” said Hawke.

The game worked by splitting students up into “drill squads.” Each drill squad competed to bring in cans, and then create a building out of the cans in under 60 seconds.

“Day to day, we had grade level competitions [in Alumni.] If you won your grade level competition, you got to absorb the next team’s cans,” said Sillup. “And then we had the schoolwide competition in the Mod Space.”

The competition was judged by three eighth grade students with a Chester County Food Bank representative observing the event. After two rounds, it was a tie between the seventh and eighth grade drill squads. The judges determined that the eighth grade drill squad came out on top.

“For most schools, it’s more about collection than connection,” Sillup said. “But for Malvern, it was the connections with the food banks, that made this such a smashing success,” Sillup said.
The students who proposed the idea never expected to receive so many can donations. “It was an amazing success,” Becket said. “We brought in one thousand, four hundred and forty six cans.”

The middle school also had a dress down day that encouraged students to bring in more cans.

The students had fun in the process, but also realize how much their efforts will positively affect others. “It’s amazing, and we know that those are going to people in need,” Becket said.

The students had even bigger plans, but had to limit the program this year. “We were gonna partner with other schools but we had to cut that off because we didn’t have enough time,” Becket said.

On Monday, November 30, a Mr. Softee’s truck rolled into campus. Delivering two kinds of cones, it was free to the Middle School.

According to Sillup, a teacher approached him and asked about a way that the middle school could recognize the student’s efforts. After bouncing around ideas of dress down days, the Experiential Group came up with the idea of the surprise ice cream truck.

“I don’t think every action deserves a reward,” said Sillup. “[The students] worked really hard at that drive and we were really proud.”