For the past few years, students at Grove's Upper Elementary School have brought items prior to Thanksgiving break for the Christian H.E.L.P. Center in Grove.

This year, the school's Assistant Principal Aaron Clemons decided to change up the experience.

Clemons, in his first year at the school, challenged his students to three goals during the drive. 

If the students achieved the goals, Clemons said he would take a cream pie to the face (1,000 items), sing karaoke in front of the students (2,000 items) and be a "dude dressed like a woman" (3,000 items.)

Clemons said he set the first goal, of 1,000 items knowing it could be achieved if every student brought two items for the drive.

The other goals, were set, to encourage students to go above and beyond what might be easy.  

"Those who could help a little, could participate, and those who cold do a lot could bring more," Clemons said, about his goals.

To his amazement, within the seven day period for the drive, his students brought in 3,095 items - or 2,940 pounds worth of food for the Christian H.E.L.P. Center.

So on Friday, Nov. 16, Clemons fulfilled his part in the drive - by dressing up, singing karaoke and taking a pie to the face.

Beyond the challenges

Clemons said the project had multiple layers, which gave his students a chance to learn several lessons.

"This teaches them that they are all in this together," Clemons said. "This is also about helping out your neighbor, even if you don't know who you are helping."

Clemons said it's always a good thing when students learn to look outside of themselves to help others.

As he watched his students meet the three goals, Clemons said he was filled with joy.

"They were all working together," Clemons said. "It's almost hard to describe just how awesome it was to see so much brought in, within such a short time."

Throughout the seven day process, school officials lined the hallway with the items brought by students, so they could see what was being accomplished as they all worked together.

Ultimately, Clemons said, he hopes his students take away one final lesson about kindness.

"They were able to help somebody by sharing what they already had," Clemons said. "They learned they could share one or two items, one to another, with the idea that they could help each other out.

"They really do care for each other and those around them."

Clemons said he's already thinking of a challenge - and the possible incentives - for his students. He is hoping to do a similar project in the spring semester.