Oconomowoc students trick-or-treat so kids can eat
Oconomowoc Area School District - If it's October and kids are at your door with a bag in hand, chances are it's trick-or-treat time. But for a band of high school theater students, it wasn't a sugar rush they were after, but a community outreach project to help people in need.
Oconomowoc High School's chapter of the International Thespian Society (ITS) participates in an annual food drive called "Trick or Treat So Kids Can Eat," which collects nonperishable food items and donates them to community food pantries.
The recent efforts of the students culminated in the collection of 1,588 pounds of food for the Oconomowoc Food Pantry.
OHS Chapter President Morgan Finley organized the event that sent the 15 club members door-to-door with fliers explaining their drive.
"Almost every house we went to made a donation to our cause, grabbing all kinds of things from their pantries to help," Finley said.
The OHS senior expanded the initiative by partnering with Greenland School and offering a pizza party to the classroom that donated the most items to the cause.
"We explained to the kids that while they are out trick-or-treating for candy, some kids are needing food to eat. They were so compassionate. It was wonderful to see such young kids care about kids in their community. Some kids even wanted to give their trick-or-treat candy; it was so cute," she added.
Greta Dowd's second-grade class won the contest with 800 pounds of food donated on behalf of the theater group's project.
The collection efforts came on the heels of the school's upcoming musical "Oklahoma!" adding to the students' already crowded schedules.
"The kids worked very hard, even though they could not have been busier," said Shelly Finley, parent of Morgan.
"We then loaded up six vehicles with all of this food. When we dropped off the food at the Oconomowoc Food Pantry, the two men there told us that they very rarely see teenagers doing things like this for the community. They also said that their pantry was really low on food and that November is their busiest month of the year. They said that this 1,588 pounds of food could not have come at a better time," she added.
International Thespian Society
OHS teacher and drama director Tom Klubertanz is proud of the students' efforts.
"Kids have to fulfill a certain number of requirements (to belong to the International Thespian Society): take theater classes, be involved in a certain number of productions and have completed volunteer hours," as well as academic requirements, he said.
"Once you're a member, you're a member for life. The society recently inducted its two millionth member," Klubertanz added.
The group has been at the high school since Klubertanz began teaching there eight years ago.
"The goal is to produce a place for kids that are interested in drama. You don't have to belong in it to be in plays," he clarified.
"Every year they have to organize one fellowship outing, going into the community and doing some sort of service. We've done two this term already. We went to Wilkinson Woods and did a murder mystery dinner that they wrote and created themselves. We acted out the play while they ate dinner. That was really great.
"This Trick or Treat so Kids Can Eat is a thespian program that the International Charter's annual service project and the food collected gets turned over to the food bank in that community," Klubertanz added.
Emily Menting, an OHS junior who was inducted into ITS at the end of last year, said she enjoyed going door-to-door canvassing for food.
"It was such a great experience. It was very well-received, and so many people were interested in helping. It was such a great project idea. I loved it," she said.
Menting speaks highly of the theater organization.
"ITS is a place where you get together with other actors and technicians, were I, personally, feel at home.
"Everyone is so friendly and comfortable with themselves. It allows us to come together and work together to help the community and improve ourselves as people," Menting added.
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