Skylar Washington, left, and Kynli Nelson prepare a box for delivery to the Gardner Multi-Service Center. Wheatridge Middle School Leadership Club members delivered 2,011 cans to the center on Nov. 3. Staff photo by Danedri Thompson

Danedri Thompson
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From a distance, it appeared as if one large class of middle school students was moving out of Wheatridge Middle School.
Students carried cardboard box after cardboard box out to cars lining Washington Street on Thursday afternoon. The boxes, filled with cans and dried goods, were loaded into teachers’ vehicles for delivery to the Gardner Multi-Service Center.
WMS Leadership Club students organize the food drive every year.
“At our school, we have a lot of low-income kids that come here and they are so willing to help,” club sponsor Deb Lurtz said. “Last year, without Wheatridge and Moonlight (Elementary)’s help, the center wouldn’t have had enough food to last through February.”
The winning class of fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders will receive ice cream sandwiches as part of the Leadership Club’s drive. But teachers stepped in to offer additional prizes for classrooms that collected the most cans.
“I’m going to get to buy my class pizza,” Lurtz said.
Students sorted and counted food items on Wednesday afternoon.
“We have a regular factory system going in there,” Lurtz said.
When final tallies were announced on Thursday afternoon, Wheatridge students had collected 2,011 food items.

Sasha Olcott and Austin Rieves push a cart of cans to awaiting cars. Bailey Knudsen looks on. Staff photo by Danedri Thompson

“It’s 2011, too,” student Sasha Olcott said.
The annual food drive is one of several projects for students in the WMS Leadership Club. The club also just finished a UNICEF food project, club member Austin Rieves, said.
“For Halloween, I did trick-or-treating for cans,” Rieves said.
The club meets twice each month, Lurtz said.
In previous years, the 50-to-60 member club has collected pennies for hospital patients and hosted a garage sale. They also do an annual teacher appreciation project. They volunteered at Boo Bash and will work as elves in the city-sponsored Santa’s Workshop at Cornerstone Park.
Evidence of their work should bloom next spring in front of the middle school as well.
“Last Friday, we planted red tulips for Red Ribbon Week,” sponsor Lori Bobki said.