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GRANITE CITY - It's been one of the best-known traditions of the Student Council of Granite City High School to fill up and deliver food baskets to needy families in the community during the Holiday season, and despite having to make adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 60-plus year tradition continued, as the Council put together another successful drive.

The Council's drive accepted both food and cash donations to help put together and deliver the baskets to the families, where a total of 125 baskets were put together and delivered on Dec. 19 on the school's parking lot, and it helps the members be able to count their blessings.

"It just brings light to our eyes," said Student Council president Whitney Klee, "to see that while there's some people in this community who are really struggling, and it helps us be so thankful for everything that we have."

The families in need were supplied by the local Salvation Army unit, and the Council makes sure that all the families are taken care of during the drive.

"We get all of our names from the Salvation Army," said Council faculty advisor Linda Ames. "They act sort of like a clearinghouse, so, kind of spread the wealth, so we take care of everybody that we can in the community."

It's been a very successful drive, as in the past 25 years, the Council has collected over $270,000 and filled over 4,000 baskets for the families in the Granite City area. But this year's drive had to make the necessary adjustments because of the pandemic. And the spirits of everyone involved stayed very high as well.

"Well, today, we are filling the baskets," Ames said, "and we have a whole system set up where it's kind of an assembly line, and the kids push baskets around, and the other kids put the food in. It works out great, and the kids have a great time doing it."

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Delivering the baskets to the families became another problem, but the Council came up with the ideas to help keep things moving forward.

"Delivering the baskets this year is very different than what it has been in the years past," Ames said. "So this year, a Student Council rep needs to bring a family member with them, so they're with someone in their bubble. And each family will deliver four or five baskets."

And this year, the Council's food drive was supported by Council alumni, the TWIGS organization, the school's Alumni Association and other members of the Granite community. All the help was greatly appreciated.

"This year, we had to resort to a different way to collect money," Ames said, "and it's been unbelievable. And I'm incredibly thankful."

Klee also emphasized that it's not only a school drive, but a community-wide drive as well.

"So really, well, is it a whole student council thing?," Klee said. "No, it's a whole school thing, it's a whole district thing. Everyone donates. So it's a super special, and making things an experience."

- Chris Mitchell contributed to this story.

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