File yet another story under the following category: High school students are not as bad as the stereotypical perception.

The defining event this time around is the Student Hunger Drive, a regional effort based in the Quad-Cities, which each year draws greater participation from local schools. In fact, Clinton High collected 12,649 pounds, a 38 percent increase from the 2005 collection.

Clinton’s contribution was part of more than 1 million pounds of food collected and donated to the River Bend Foodbank, which will return the contributions to pantries in the areas of the 24 participating schools.

Clinton High received $750 for having the second most improved total from 2005 and a $500 prize for the second most creative event, a hunger strike event held in October. The Student Council plans to put the money toward next year’s drive.

Let us not forget Clinton’s Lincoln High School, which also got in on the action with its innovative Lincoln Hotties contest and a chili cookoff, both of which were planned to generate donations for the hunger drive.

Events like the Hottie contest and the Mr. Clinton High pageant are quick to become highlights on a school’s activity calendar. They can be so much fun that it might be easy to forget they exist to help boost the hunger drive.

There seems to be no danger of that in the near future, though, as our local students seem more committed than ever to this cause. We hope that in soliciting and collecting canned food donations the students learn not just about the value of helping other people, but specifically about the important issue of hunger in our hometown.

Carrying boxes and boxes of canned food should drive home the point that there are far too many people who don’t have enough to eat. It should help the participants learn to be prudent with their own food use. And ultimately, while it’s good to expose so many people to the problem of hunger, the drive hopefully will make more than a few people think about why that hunger exists.

Feeding people in need is of high importance, but it is temporary relief. Taking steps to help cut down on the number of people who are in need is a larger goal, one that gets to the root of the problem. It’s much harder, though, to cure the greater problem, so it’s good to keep working on those temporary solutions.

It’s also good to have our leaders of tomorrow leading the way on this effort today. Their youthful exuberance is well directed in this effort, and we older folks ought to thank them and find ways to follow their example.

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