Fill the Jar competition gives gifts and food to those in need


On display in Mr. Schott’s room are the gifts that were purchased with money donated in Schott’s Fill the Jar competition

Danielle Berdik

The holiday season is upon us which means multiple things, one of them being gift giving. People fill the stores buying gifts for family and friends and on Christmas children wake up filled with excitement, ready to open their presents. However, not every family has the resources to provide this holiday tradition. To give children in those families the excitement that many other children feel each year, there are many fundraisers that occur.

Shaler Area High School holds an annual “Angel Tree” event where gifts are purchased for specific boys and girls. This year there were over 200 donations.

In addition to this event, English teacher Mr. Eric Schott holds a competitive fundraiser between his World Literature classes called Fill the Jar. The premise being that each of his class periods have a jar that they must fill with money. Each class earns points based on the money in the jar. Any coins in the jar count as positive points and any paper money in a jar counts as negative points. The idea is to collect coins for your jar and paper money for the other jars. Even though it gets competitive, the goal of the event is to raise money for the charity.

After the competition ends and the money is counted, the money is divided to buy Christmas gifts that are then collected and donated charity through Activities Office. The remaining money is directly donated to Bread of Life Food Pantry in Etna.

Once the gifts are bought, they are displayed in Mr. Schott’s classroom for all his classes to see. This small action of displaying the gifts has a big meaning as the classes can actually see what their charitable spirit resulted in.

“It’s probably my favorite part of the contest,” Mr. Schott said. “It’s one thing to look at a jar with money in it, but when the kids see all of the stuff that money is able to purchase, it’s gives it a little more meaning.”

The gifts are then walked down to the Activities office by the students, again bringing attention to the large amount of gifts collected as many people are needed to bring down the gifts.

“I loved the competitiveness of it, but it felt good knowing I was giving my money to a good cause,” junior Ron Molnar, who competed in the competition last year, said.

Since Schott’s literature classes are composed of tenth graders, most of the students between the classes know each other, increasing their competitive nature. The students not only want to win, but want to beat their friends and sabotage their jars by placing bills in their jars.

“At first it’s pretty calm and kids are donating loose change, but eventually someone will drop a $10 or $20 bill in another class’s jar and then everyone gets a little more fired up and starts plotting strategy,” Mr. Schott said.

Over the years, the students have attempted various strategies to win. Some classes have focused on bringing in many coins early on for their class’s jar, then other classes have waited until the end to bring everything in. When it comes to the bills, some classes solely focus on collecting coins for their class jar while there are other classes who have prioritized bringing in bills to sabotage the other classes.

“I think I’ve seen it all, but then something new always seems to pop up,” Schott said.

In the 2020-21 school year, Schott did not do Fill the Jar because of the odd hybrid schedule due to the pandemic, but following the hiatus the 2021 contest collected a record-breaking amount of money. The competition between the classes was intense, but it was all in good intent as more than $1300 was collected.

“I was blown away,” Mr. Schott said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect after taking a year off, but it turned out to be the most money ever donated. I told the kids I was amazed (and slightly concerned).”

This year, Mr. Schott’s classes came through again as just over $770 was collected.

“The drive was a great way to bring all the classes together to support a great cause during this holiday time,” sophomore Christian Mendoza said.