Harvest Drive celebrates 25 years of giving back


Meghan Keough

Junior Kayla Ramos, junior Chris Cacciola and senior Diego Diaz organize canned goods in the gymnasium on Nov. 20 for the 25th Harvest Drive.

Instead of students playing basketball or working out in the mini gym, the space was filled wall to wall with thousands of canned goods and perishable items. Colorful cereal boxes were stacked among cans of Campbell’s soup. Students pushing shopping carts and toting paper bags occupied the center. The volunteers’ faces expressed elation as their plan to collect food for the less fortunate became a reality.

On Nov. 20, students organized canned goods and non-perishable items for families in need at the annual fall Harvest Drive. Students from Tequesta Trace Middle School and Parkway Christian gathered items in large paper bags alongside the high school volunteers. The Student Government Organization orchestrated the charity drive and placed students in head co-chair positions to take the lead.

Harvest Drive co-chairs junior Zachary Kean, sophomore Hanna Wancier and freshman Sophia Elliot have been planning the event since late August. SGA members started collecting items in October to give away to families in time for Thanksgiving. While at the opening ceremony for the organization, Kean, Wancier and Elliot were all standing proudly amongst their peers and the massive amounts of boxes and carts full of perishable cuisine.

“I think that [students] would get more involved with the Harvest Drive if they knew that it was going towards a good cause and that their hard work is actually paying off,” Wancier said.

Wancier had been involved in planning the Harvest Drive but didn’t participate during collection day last year. This year was the first time that Wancier was able to see the food stacked against the walls of the gym.

“I was in awe. When all of the bags were laid out and the food was divided, it was an amazing feeling to see that Western High was able to collect all of those donations and make a really big difference in the community,” Wancier said.

The organization boasts around 10 distribution sites with 200 participating schools. The food collection this year is estimated to feed around 2,400 families or 10,000 people. The Harvest Drive is not only helping families this year, but has been aiding the community for a substantial amount of time. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of the annual Harvest Drive and founder Renee Herman plans to continue this tradition.

“I have had students that have gone through this program for 25 years that are now adults in society that even have children, and they come back every single year to assist us because they learned when they were young to give back,” Herman said.

The fall Harvest Drive brings out the best in the community and challenges others to work together and help the less fortunate. Not only does the collected food feed 2,400 families, but in previous years, there has been a surplus after distribution has taken place. Assistant principal Derek Gordon participated in distribution on Nov. 21 and in years past. His experience with the Harvest Drive has led him to witness humbling acts of kindness amongst community members during the holiday season.

“Last year, we had too much food, so [horticulture teacher] Mr. [Brett] Williams loaded the frozen turkeys onto the back of his truck and we went out to the neighborhoods around the school and started handing them out. At the very end, there was this little old lady, and she got the very last turkey, and if she hadn’t gotten it, she wouldn’t have had a turkey that year,” Gordon said.  

Though the date is not yet set, the spring Harvest Drive will take place late March or early April.