DIXFIELD — Members of the Positive Cougar Club at T.W. Kelly Middle School boxed up 555 items, including nonperishable food and toiletries for pantries in Carthage, Canton, Dixfield and Peru, the four Regional School Unit 56 towns.

The students and their families started collecting items in mid-November, teacher and adviser Bethany Meehan-Poulin said. They also gathered supplies for their school’s Cougar Den, a place where students can get food to take home and get free clothes, hats, boots and shoes. A box of donations was also brought to the food pantry at Dirigo Elementary School in Peru.

The Positive Cougar Club is facilitated by River Valley Rising Director Allie Burke and Melissa Harding, who guide the student-led group in creating a positive environment at the school and in the community. This year, the group also created posters with anti-bullying and “be kind” messages to inspire students.

Lana Waite, 12, of the Positive Cougars Club, said she was happy to help with the food donations for Thanksgiving because “people deserve extra things like stuffing” to have for their meals.

In order to make things interesting, the students had a competition and the classroom that brought in the most donations, that of teacher Emily Cote, was given an ice cream party while the rest enjoyed popcorn.

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T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School students and their leaders sort food donations Thursday afternoon. From left are Wyatt Perham, Sophia Archer, teacher Bethany Meehan-Poulin, Madison Rich, River Valley Rising Director Allie Burke and Nikole Turnbull. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

River Valley Rising Director Allie Burke, left, assists students at T.W. Kelly Middle School on Thursday with their food drive. Students Lana Waite, left, Noah Downs, and Makayla Downs, right, are members of the school’s Positive Cougar Club. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

Students at T.W. Kelly Middle School in Dixfield collected food and toiletry items for two schools and four food pantries. The students are members of the Positive Cougar Club, which is facilitated by River Valley Rising Director Allie Burke with assistance from teacher Bethany Meehan-Poulin. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

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