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Elkhorn Valley View middle schooler leads peers against food insecurity

Posted at 6:40 AM, Apr 26, 2022

ELKHORN, Neb. (KMTV) — According to the Food Bank for the Heartland, one in six children across Nebraska and Western Iowa are at risk of food insecurity.

One 13-year-old Elkhorn Valley View student and her peers are looking to make a difference.

“When kids can help kids, the power is just immense,” Elkhorn Valley Principal Chad Soupir said.

“She is just unstoppable,” Stephanie Sullivan with Food Bank for the Heartland said.

They’re talking about 7th grader Sophia Franzluebbers.

Franzluebbers is a regular volunteer at the Food Bank for the Heartland, including for the food bank’s backpack program.

The program supports more than 250 schools and 8,000 students across Nebraska and Western Iowa, sending students in need home with easy to prepare, nutritious meals every Friday, so they’re well fed over the weekend.

However, she wanted to make a bigger impact.

“I just saw the bags that we were packing, and I came to Mr. Soupir with the idea like, ‘What if we could put on a drive for these kids and see how much money we raise,’” Franzluebbers said.

Soupir was on board and so were the kids. The goal was to raise $500 in one week.

The school shattered it, raising more than $5,500.

“And still I sit back in kind of awe,” Soupir said. “How these kids, these families rallied around giving to other children, and surpassed all of my expectations.”

“It was a feeling of gratitude,” Franzluebbers said. “Just to know that kids around this school care about other kids and want to help other kids out and just the teachers who were also behind me and helping me out.”

“The fact that she saw this need and then inspired her classmates to get involved, she's unstoppable,” Sullivan said. “We can’t wait to see what she does in the future.”

The future is now. Sophia approached Soupir once again this year wanting to raise the bar.

“My thought was, how are we going to meet what we met before? Because it exceeded all expectations,” Soupir said.

She already had the plan.

“She says, ‘You know, I was thinking, what if we include another middle school?’ I’m like oh my gosh Sophia, are you serious? This is going to take off now from 600 kids now to 1,200 kids.”

It all came together seamlessly once again. Elkhorn Ridge Middle School answered the call.

“Our goal is $10,000 but I think we can surpass that really easily,” Franzluebbers said.

“We’re embarking on another adventure with two middle schools doing something good for kids,” Soupir said.

By 9:30 a.m. Monday morning, the money was already racking up.

“I walked around this morning and people are fired up and people are donating money left and right,” Soupir said.

The schools had already combined to raise nearly $2,000 in one day.

“We appreciate every donation and every fundraiser that raises funds for the food bank, but this one is really unique,” Sullivan said. “Because it’s children helping children. The work that they’re doing is really life changing.”

Sophia has become an inspiration.

“I really thank her a lot for this, because if it wasn’t for her, we probably wouldn’t be doing it,” Soupir said. “A 13-year-old driving 1,200 of her peers to give to others, it's pretty impressive.”

Proof that age is just a number. All it takes is an idea and an initiative.

“I asked Sophia, ‘If somebody else wanted to do this and get involved, what would you say to them?’” Sullivan said. “Her exact words were, ‘It’s really easy to make a difference.’”

The final day of the campaign is Friday, April 29. The schools will release the total raised next Monday.

If you would like to donate to the drive or see how the schools are doing so far, click here.