HARTVILLE  The Lake Center Christian boys and girls cross country teams spend a lot of time and energy running together, but this day was different.

On Sept. 6, the school’s junior high and high school cross country teams held a unique fundraiser for the F.I.S.H. food pantry in Lake Township, running laps around the school’s Hartville campus with sponsors pledging to donate a can of food for each lap completed.

The fundraiser was the idea of cross country coach Dannon Stock.

“Local food pantries are flooded with donations during the holiday season. However, during the year, donations aren’t as plentiful,” Stock said. “This was a great way to encourage the students to use their skills to build awareness for the F.I.S.H. and help others in need.”

The fundraiser took place at the end of the school day, with members of the cross country team taking turns running laps. For more than an hour, they ran in the heat, encouraging one another and trying to complete as many laps as possible to bring in the most cans they could for the food pantry.

Among those who ran in the fundraiser was senior Jonathan Mizener, a member of the varsity boys cross country team.

“I thought it was really a cool way to be able to use running to help the community,” Mizener said. “I didn’t know much about the food pantry before. I ran in the F.I.S.H. 5K race this year so I knew a little bit, but this was first time at the food pantry when we dropped off the cans.

Mizener estimated that most members of the team ran two laps and each had three sponsors who pledged to donate the same number of cans as laps run during the event. The total was 581 cans, a donation the team collected and took to the food pantry.

Several members of the team took part in the delivery, giving each of them a chance to see in person where their efforts were helping. The idea of community service as a part of sports has been a consistent theme in Lake Center Christian’s running programs in recent years, with the track and field teams engaging in multiple service projects last season.

Mizener and his teammates were happy to have the chance to combine something they do almost every day with helping people in their community who need assistance.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity for us to be able to use our talents to help benefit the community,” Mizener said. 

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