A charitable initiative at Forest Lawn High School has collected more than 2,000 non-perishable food items for families in need within the school community and rewarded the efforts of students who helped the cause.

The school’s ‘10 days of giveaways’ was spearheaded by teacher Kelly McCarthy and the students in her leadership class in an effort to help others.

“We knew we wanted the students at Forest Lawn High School to be impacted the most,” explained McCarthy. “Students at our school come hungry every day. They have rough lives.”

Assistant principal Mark Anderson says Forest Lawn High School has an extremely diverse student body.

“We have 53 different languages spoken by our students in this school,” said Anderson. “The whole world is our community. This is truly a village where the needs range from refugee status right through to post-secondary university full scholarships.”

“Because of the diversity, the opportunities to both provide and receive needed items is quite great.”

To further entice student participation in the food, warm clothing and toiletries drive, local businesses supplied a number of prizes, ranging from tickets to Flames games to Foot Locker gift cards, for a draw. Students earned ballots based on their donations.

“Every day the prizes increase in value and that increases the excitement in people,” said Mady Mesina, a student leader.

Mesina says the fact the donations will stay within the community is rewarding for everyone involved.

“I've always wanted to do something where you directly impact the community instead of through a food bank or other companies (where) you don’t see the impact right away,” explained Mesina. “With this project, we are giving back to people we see around every day especially at our school."

McCarthy says the school’s reputation may not be the greatest outside of the building but ‘we’ve been able to create something this beautiful’.”

“I am so impressed that we’re going to be able to help 29 families this year at our school,” said McCarthy. “Everything will be divided equally between those 29 families.”

In addition to the items donated by the students, Calgary Co-op will provide a turkey for each basket."

The leadership class students hope to make the drive an annual event.

With files from CTV’s Stephanie Wiebe