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Kelly Smith, Published November 21 2009

Last-minute help needed to fill the dome

Oak Grove Lutheran School students are confident they’ve bagged – or canned – another win in the third annual Fill the Dome project.

“We’re competitive,” senior Peter Frei said Friday, adding that the Fargo private school is going for a “three-peat” this year after winning the competition the past two years. “(Losing is) not going to happen.”

However, others say the communitywide, student-led food drive has a way to go to reach its goals.

This weekend, hundreds of students will be scrambling to collect last-minute donations before Monday.

That’s when Oak Grove will see for sure if it can top the 50 other local schools. Each school will spread what it has collected on the Fargodome’s 80,000-square-foot floor to see who can fill the most space.

“I think our groups are optimistic, but they’re still going to be working hard through the weekend,” said Greg Tehven, who advises the Metro Student Council Ambassadors, which coordinates the food drive.

Three weeks ago, students aimed to collect 75 tons of food, $7,500 and 7,500 signatures urging policymakers to help curb hunger statewide.

Tehven said students still need to gather 5,700 signatures and sell 400 more $10 bags of canned goods at Hornbacher’s grocery stores to reach their goals.

And while they’re close to reaching the cash goal, he said they still need help.

Even Oak Grove students felt pressure this week when they saw how little they’d collected because they’re so confident they’ll win again.

It prompted them to ramp up efforts, raising some $5,000, spending it “raiding” a local grocery store and filling a moving truck with literally tons of bagged rice, canned beans and boxes of oatmeal.

“We have a lot of spirit here,” Frei said. “It sounds corny, but that’s true.”

The 250 sixth- to 12th-grade students celebrated Friday by arranging boxes of pasta or canned corn into pyramids, a football stadium and other objects.

“This will probably be a record for Oak Grove,” Principal Morgan Forness said about their estimated 12 tons of food.

It’s a result organizers hope will be replicated across the area if students want to reach their goals.

“They’re doing a lot of last-minute things to make things happen,” Tehven said. “I think they have a lot to be proud of.”

How to help

  • Online: Go to www.fillthedome.org to donate or sign the petition

  • This weekend: Buy $10 bags at Hornbacher’s grocery stores, which have about 8 pounds of food.

  • Monday: Drop off items from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fargodome.

    Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515