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The giving spirit

Fill the Dome benefits food pantries

Several area students have been working long and hard with a specific goal in mind - to literally 'fill the dome' with food donations that will be given to local food pantries to assist families in need - a wonderful gesture in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The initial idea was conceived last June when a group of local students brainstormed to come up with an event that would truly make a difference in the community.

Billed as the largest youth led food drive in the area's history, the project has been a combined effort of youth of all ages from the elementary to high school level guided by Metro Area Student Council Ambassadors, a group of student leaders from public and private high schools in Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead, bent on encouraging students, schools and community members to be a strong and active part of the activity.

Alex Windjue, West Fargo High School student council president, is one of the metro area ambassadors who have played key roles in the project from its inception. Others include: Bill Restemayer, Shanley; Emma Johnson, Fargo South; Kristen Feickert, Fargo North; Allison Bock, Oak Grove; Lexi Stadstad, Moorhead High; and Tanner Olson, Park Christian School. Greg Tehven, a West Fargo High School graduate and one of the founders of Students Today Leaders Forever, has served as advisor for the project.

"Our idea turned into this giant event," Windjue said. He said Fargodome officials were very receptive and ultimately all 48 schools in West Fargo, Fargo and Moorhead, came on board and initiated food drives in their quest to help 'fill the dome.'

The schools started accepting donations Nov. 1, with that effort continuing through yesterday (Tuesday). The culminating event is the unveiling of the floor full of food at the Fargodome today (Wednesday), along with the announcement of the winning schools who will be presented with $1000, $500, and $250 awards to be given to the charity of their choice.

Students from the various schools spent Monday and Tuesday boxing and transporting their collected food donations to their assigned section of floor space in the Fargodome.

Once the ceremony is complete, the student leaders from the area schools, as well as several other volunteers, will begin loading the food to be taken to the Great Plains Food Bank for distribution to local agencies around the community.

Windjue said that the effort "has been a great experience on many levels in not only helping the community and getting the youth and students involved, but also on a personal level with all the great contacts made. Working with the students around the school to make a large scale effort like this happen has been extremely rewarding."

He said that the community support with their generous donations has been overwhelming in helping make the project a success. "It's a critical time right now because there is a shortage of food in the local food banks. We are so happy to be able to help out and hopefully help make the holiday season brighter for local individuals and families."

As of Tuesday morning, thousands of pounds of foodstuffs had been collected and transported to the Fargodome. "Epic is a good way to describe it," Windjue concluded.