Instead of sitting in class daydreaming about winter break Thursday, Dec. 19, a group of Carlton High School students were loading up a pickup truck with large boxes of food.

The school’s Student Council and Peer Helper students worked together over the last month to organize a food drive for the Salvation Army Food Shelf in Cloquet.

The Peer Helper program is designed to help younger students at Carlton acclimate to the middle and high school environment. A sixth grader is paired with an 11th or 12th grader when they arrive at the high school from South Terrace Elementary School to help them adjust to their new surroundings.

Carlton High School student Emily Schaefer reacts to the cold carries a food donation outside to be delivered to the Salvation Army Food Shelf Thursday, Dec. 19, in Cloquet. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal
Carlton High School student Emily Schaefer reacts to the cold carries a food donation outside to be delivered to the Salvation Army Food Shelf Thursday, Dec. 19, in Cloquet. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal

Peer Helper adviser Deb Coy said when they heard the food shelf was critically low, the two groups began working together to encourage students throughout the school to bring in nonperishable food items — particularly canned fruit and vegetables and boxes of cereal.

Coy estimated the group collected several hundred pounds of food, which a group of students delivered to the food shelf Thursday.

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Peer Helper Ben Soderstrom said the groups were happy there was an opportunity to help out some of their community members in need.

“Our big idea was we know there are a lot of kids in this school that aren’t as fortunate as others,” Soderstrom said. “We felt that Christmas is a special time for everyone and we don’t want anyone to go hungry.”

Carlton High School students (from left) Colin Emerson, Kaden Crane, Daniel Eggert, Ben Soderstrom, Ella Palmer, Emily Schaefer and Samantha Matarelli led a food drive that collected several hundred pounds of food for the Salvation Army Food Shelf in Cloquet. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal
Carlton High School students (from left) Colin Emerson, Kaden Crane, Daniel Eggert, Ben Soderstrom, Ella Palmer, Emily Schaefer and Samantha Matarelli led a food drive that collected several hundred pounds of food for the Salvation Army Food Shelf in Cloquet. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal