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Henry Sibley High School Students Learn, Laugh and Give at GOFA Week

Now in its 39th year, Henry Sibley student have raised $4 million in traditional week-long event which combines fun and charitable giving.

As the best of the talent show performers got ready for a Friday afternoon show to cap Give Once For All (GOFA) Week at Henry Sibley High School, it became obvious that not all of the talent was on stage.

GOFA student chairs Yongyee Lo, Briana Mork and David Gardner could finally take a deep breath after a year of organizing and executing the annual fundraiser and celebration.

A Sibley tradition for 39 years, GOFA raises between about $15,000 and $20,000 for charity.

“Each year we choose three charities, and we try to raise as much money as we can give to those three charities,” said Lo. “So far throughout these 39 years, we’ve raised four million dollars.”

This year’s events included two talent shows, t-shirt sales, a dance, a dodgeball tournament, a game show, a food-packing day and an assortment of other fundraising activities.

“We try to add things every year,” said Gardner. “This year we had the dodgeball tournament, which was brand new. ... It turned out to be a really great event.”

This year's GOFA charities are Neighborhood House, the District 197 Education Foundation and ImpactLives.

“ImpactLives is a little different,” said Gardner. “They came in (last week), and they brought all of the supplies, and we took each grade and sent them (to the cafeteria) for like an hour and they packed food."

Each table of students packed two boxes. Each box of food is designed to feed a family for a month. The students ultimately packed around 50,000 meals.

“It was just amazing to see the kids really dive in and be able to have an opportunity to be able pack meals for other people,” said GOFA advisor Alison Footh.

The 50,000 meals packed by the Henry Sibley students are destined for Haiti.

“This year, ImpactLives was something we were really happy about because it showed kids firsthand how good it feels to give," said Gardner. "Kids loved doing it and when they had to go ... almost everyone didn’t want to go. They just wanted to keep going.”

The charities are chosen by GOFA members after reviewing nominations and going through a selection process. The themes this year were Minnesota and community.

“”We wanted to make it about people helping their neighbors who are not as fortunate as themselves,” Gardner said.

GOFA has thrived at Henry Sibley because of its dual nature. It’s fun for the students, and also enables them to give back to the community, said organizers.

“We’re the only people (in the district) who have successfully done a week like this over and over and over again,” said Mork.

Being on the GOFA planning team teaches students a lot about organization and leadership. The GOFA leaders started planning for the special week last summer.

“As it becomes closer and closer it becomes our whole life,” Mork added.

“They’ve been very dedicated,’ said Footh.

“The kids themselves, our GOFA chairs themselves, gain such an experience in leadership that just can’t be duplicated,” Footh said. “And the student council kids overall really learn how to give back to the community. Our general population, they learn that giving back to charity feels good, and that we need to sustain it, and that we need to continue giving back to charity.”

“It takes a little bit of time and a little bit of effort, but you get a lot from it,” said Mork.

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