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RACINE — In light of Thanksgiving, students and staff at Walden III middle and high school collected 600 boxes of food and a total of $11,262.44 to donate to the Racine County Food Bank. This included last-minute donations that were collected during their schoolwide assembly.

Walden III Racine County Food Bank
The stage in the Walden III gymnasium held 600 boxes of food for the Racine County Food Bank. – Credit: Emma Widmar

Within six school days, home groups at the school challenged each other to see who could tally the largest contribution, with the overall goal to give back to those in need this holiday.

Walden III Student Government played vital role

The Student Government at Walden III was monumental in guiding the school to victory. On Nov. 22, an assembly took place in the fieldhouse, 2340 Mohr Ave., to unveil the final totals.

The 600 boxes of food will support families in need for one month.

Walden III Racine County Food Bank
Student Government President Maren DeSonia offers sincere thanks to her fellow students for their efforts during an assembly to present food and monetary donations to the Racine County Food Bank. – Credit: Emma Widmar

“Our monetary donation gives the food bank the ability to purchase 47,500 additional meals, which is just exceptional.”

Maren DeSonia, Walden III Student Government President

Mayor’s remarks

As an alumni himself, Mayor Cory Mason was grinning ear to ear with pride and noted that he felt inspired. The Mayor is also the father to Amelia and Eleanor, who are both students at the school who were involved in the collection.

During the assembly, students and staff heard from Mayor Mason.

“Thanksgiving is about many things about celebrations of family,” he said. “It’s about raising money for your community. But it’s really also about gratitude and being thankful for what you have and I can’t tell you how inspiring it is for me as your Mayor, to see all of you working on what inspires you to be grateful to give back to the community.”

Walden III Racine County Food Bank
Racine Mayor, Cory Mason, spoke to the student body at Walden III, expressing his gratitude for their generosity and hard work. – Credit: Emma Widmar

Mason returned to the event for the first time in person since COVID-19 forced the event to operate via drive-thru.

“There’s a quote from a person named Margaret Mead. She’s an anthropologist, but I always think about it when I come to this event. The quote says ‘Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world, because it’s the only thing that ever really has,'” said Mason. “

Presenting the check

An oversized check was presented to Dan Taivalkoski the Executive Director of the Racine County Food Bank during the school assembly.

Walden III Racine County Food Bank
Racine County Food Bank Executive Director Dan Taivalkoski receives a check from the Walden III student body, along with 600 boxes of food. – Credit: Emma Widmar

“I get emotional every year when you call me here because this is just huge for us. It’s unbelievable what you guys do for us,” said Taivalkoski.

This school in Racine Unified School District has been the second largest contributor to the Racine County Food Bank for the third year running. The Executive Director explained the mail carriers across the county rank as number 1. Nevertheless, their donations are unremarkable.

“If I’m looking at the future of our community, out here in this crowd, I think we’re in very good hands,” said Taivalkoski.

Traditions continue

In addition to the announcements, during the event, Student Government President and Senior, Maren DeSonia, announced the classrooms that made the most improvements, raised the most food items, monetary donations and more.

Walden III Racine County Food Bank
Tug of war was played to declare a winner between the middle and high schools. – Credit: Emma Widmar

Awards were given to both middle and high school home groups and tug of war was played to declare a winner between the middle and high schools.

Additionally, the student government did a last-minute challenge calling the boys and girls in the school to empty their pockets just one more time. Student Government representatives made their way through the sea of students with buckets to collect donations.

Walden III Racine County Food Bank
Students chipped in and raised an extra $319.44 to add to their original total of $10,927 for Racine County Food Bank. – Credit: Emma Widmar

The girls ended up collecting more than the boys, but together they came together, raising an extra $319.44 to add to their original total of $10,927.

Teachers got a taste of sweet victory as pies were smashed in their faces. This incentive wrapped up the event and congratulated the students’ successful campaign.

Walden III Racine County Food Bank
Teachers at Walden III prepare for getting pied in the face. – Credit: Emma Widmar
Walden III Racine County Food Bank
Students pie teachers in the face, on top of the head, wherever there was room for more pie. – Credit: Emma Widmar

“We worked together and in the end, we challenged the community,” said DeSonia. “This is a big fundamental tradition for us.”

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