Did you know about 11,000 people of the estimated population of 77,000 Erie County residents live 100 percent below the poverty level?
How about that out of those 11,000 people, 20 percent of them are children?
Most people might be unaware of this growing problem.
With giving hearts, students at Edison High School, home of the Chargers, in the small village of Milan, are trying to make a big difference.
In the month of November, family and consumer science teacher Jennifer Seel informed her money matters class of the bad news.
Seel shared with her students that the local food banks in their hometowns of Milan and Berlin Heights were in desperate need of food donations to provide to families that need help through the holiday season and beyond.
Although Edison is a small school, the students were unaware of just how serious the hunger situation their community is. As a group, they decided to put forth all their efforts to try and lend a helping hand.
Taking a break from the regular content of the class, the students began brain-storming ideas to get the staff and whole student body involved -- which proved to be a great challenge.
The project required immense organization, dedication, and cooperation from all eleven students (10 seniors and one junior) in the money matters class.
After spending a week or two contemplating and putting their ideas together at what they called "the Board Table," the students came up with a way to get everyone to participate.
The main event was the annual Christmas assembly on Dec. 21, the day before Christmas break began. The students said the name they came up with for this week of giving was one of the hardest things to decide. After a lot of discussion, they decided on "Dodging Hunger 2012."
The students' philosophy was "Dive, duck, dip, dive, and dodge," almost everyone loves a good game of dodge ball -- especially high school students.
So, with the approval and support of the Principal Jeff Goodwin and the cooperation of the staff, the students planned a bracket-style dodge ball tournament. The icing on the cake is the team that won the bracket not only would take home an amazing prize, donated by Kalahari, but got to face the staff dodgeball team, making it even more exciting.
Following most of the rules from the National Amateur Dodgeball Association on how to properly play the game, the class decided to add a few rules of their own for safety and clarification purposes.
There was a total of 10 dodge ball teams with six players on each team, but the catch was that each team had to donate 30 cans to officially become a team on the bracket. The canned foods were to be unexpired to count toward the team total and the first 10 teams to bring in the 30 cans played.
As an added twist, in order for each student in the school to attend the assembly, they had to bring in a canned food item as well.
After planning the big event, the class decided to make it even bigger and make it the whole week before Christmas break began. The tournament started Dec. 17.
To reward the giving nature of the Edison students, Seel's class sought out donations from local businesses, which were awarded during the assembly.
The students ended up collecting donations from more than 20 different restaurants, stores, water parks, etc., which graciously decided to help support the class' good cause.
Focusing on what the food bank needs the most, for each item brought in, students received a range of tickets to be entered to win the various prizes ranging from 50 free wings to Vera Bradley bags with a lot of gift cards and more. Seel's class also designed and took orders for "Dodging Hunger 2012" T-shirts with a portion of the profits from the T-shirt company going back to the food bank.
Edison is a small school of about 400 students, but in this time of need, they came together to help others during the holiday season. Without all the support from the community and the school the students wouldn't have been able to make this possible and for that they said they're very grateful.
To date, the students have collected at least 500 cans and are prepared to accept many more donations.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written by Edison High School senior Tatiana Pickens.