When Lilia Maschmeier, an eighth-grade student at Ryan Gloyer Middle School (RGMS), decided to spearhead a districtwide food drive, she didn’t know what to expect. So she was surprised—and thrilled—to see just how excited Seneca Valley students and local businesses were to get involved.
“We collected over 7,000 items, all of which were donated to Victory Family Church’s Help Your Neighbor food bank,” said Maschmeier. “They were really thankful, because it will make such a big impact in the community.
“I was really surprised, because while I set the goal to get that high, I didn’t think we would reach it,” she added. “You can only encourage kids so much, but everyone responded so well; the kids loved the idea. We had some people bringing in 200 items. They really went for it!”
In order to make the food drive happen, Maschmeier met with the principals from every building in the district to get approval, and also reached out to businesses for sponsorship opportunities. She also created a video and flyer to send to each school so that they could learn more about the project.
“Every year, students in our gifted program, called Purpose, do a year-long project designed to get them to think bigger,” said Purpose teacher Ezekiel Stroupe. “We read the book, A More Beautiful Question, and that got students thinking about how they could make a difference. Lilia’s class was focused on reducing food waste, and she asked if she could take on this project.
“Lilia did a really impressive job; she spent a lot of time on the food drive,” he continued. “Kids usually get one period a week to work on their project, and by the final stretch, she was working on it a period each day.”
Homerooms that donated the most to the food drive won prizes, including passes to Fun Fore All Family Fun Park and UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, and coupons from Dairy Queen. The class that brought in the most items from grades 7-12 won a pool party at Cranberry Township Community Waterpark.
And this is not Maschmeier’s first food drive. This past fall, she did a mini-food drive with the gifted class that raised 350 items that were given to Victory Family Church.
“We’re the future of this country and the world,” said Maschmeier. “If we can’t think of ways to make it a better place now, we probably won’t think of them when we’re older. We have to take every opportunity to help someone. And if we don’t do it now, we may never learn to do it.”
“We always stress to our students that just because you’re 13 or 14, and something seems too big for you, you can still get involved,” said Stroupe. “Lilia is a prime example; you can make a difference at any age.”