FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Starting Nov. 1, Flagstaff High School’s student council is holding a canned food drive for their fellow classmates in need. The high school has been collecting cans for decades for various organizations, but this is the first year they have called on the community to get involved as well.

Tori Noenickx, the community service chair for FHS, is making it her goal to make this annual drive a community event, not just a school event.

“One English teacher is having students write donation letters to businesses around town,” said Noenickx. “My friend who works at the Dollar Tree has been collecting there as well and dropping them off here.”

Hotels are donating toiletries, churches and businesses are collecting cans, and the students continue to bring in donations by the thousands.

“Flag High is the largest food drive that partners with us,” said Stephanie Sivak, the McKinney-Vento homeless liaison to FHS. “We just finished the ramen from last year’s canned food drive.”

However, the can drive needs more than just ramen. Noenickx is trying to get students and the community to donate different kinds of foods, as well as toiletries and blankets. These supplies go straight back to children and families in Flagstaff Unified School District that qualify as homeless.

“Homelessness is year long. It doesn’t fit in the school calendar,” said Sivak. “It’s really tough for families in January and February, and this food drive carries us through the entire spring.”

There are many students in the school district that struggle with homelessness and couch surf. Kat Pastor, FHS student council advisor, hopes that collecting basic items for fellow students in need will create a school environment where those students feel safe.

“This is how humans take care of each other. It's more than just points, more than just resume-building. It’s learning how to take care of your fellow humankind,” said Pastor.

Noenickx has high hopes for this year’s drive.

“This year, we are making individual deposits instead of having one big truck loading day because I don’t think we will have enough cars,” said Noenickx. “We’ve already sent over two full car loads.”

The can drive runs through November, and donations can be dropped in the main office at Flagstaff High School.