A Plainview high schooler launched a canned food drive just before Thanksgiving 

Jessie Gray, a junior at Plainview High School, worked with her Native Youth Community Project team to organize a canned food drive for the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma. They ran the drive alongside Plainview Middle School’s larger annual canned food drive, bringing in an additional 200 cans for a total of 901. 

“Thanksgiving is really important to me,” Gray said. “I love spending it with my family, and I know there’s a lot of places that would love donations. Those families were abused… and I wanted to help them.” 

The two-week drive ended at Thanksgiving break. Gray said she had the idea about a week before the drive started and moved quickly to organize it. 

“I know there’s a lot of people in our community that don’t have the same luxuries I do,” Gray said. 

Gray said she was inspired by another student, Jentri Rayburn, who holds an annual sock drive.

“This was her second year I think,” Gray said. “So I thought that was really cool.” 

Gray said she made flyers, got the school administration involved and got the word out through morning and afternoon announcements.

“It’s pretty simple if you have help from other people,” Gray said. “It would have been harder if I’d done it just by myself, but (Plainview High School Principal Randy) Barker wanted me to do it with a group.” 

Gray, a member of National Honor Society and Ardmore Youth Leadership, said she’s no stranger to volunteer work, but this was the first time she’d done something like this on her own. 

“I’m in a bunch of leadership things, so I said, ‘Well, I need to do something about it and be a leader in my school,’” Gray said.

Every sixth period class formed a team. Flyers announced that the winning teams would get a prize of some kind, but Gray admits this detail was worked out later. 

“I said ‘a reward,’ at first,” Gray said. “We just sort of played it by ear, and by the middle (of the drive) we knew what it was.” 

Now that school is back in session, the two winning classes will have a party with pizza and games to celebrate. Gray said she recommends other students take on similar projects in the future.