Panther Valley High School is working toward helping families in need.

Recently, the newly-formed Future Business Leaders of America chapter at the school held a canned food drive and door decorating contest in the hopes of helping the communities that comprise the Panther Valley.

Members of FBLA pitted homerooms against each other in the contests, with a pizza party or doughnut breakfast at stake.

When the contest was over, just under 1,000 food items from canned ham to baby food and even an econo-sized bag of pancake mix were collected and the winners were announced. Bobby Paparozzi's and Holly Guedes' life skills and emotional support rooms, which were grouped together for the contest, were the "top Panthers," collecting over 200 items.

The winner of the door decorating contest was Brent Reabold's homeroom. Students decorated the door as a mummy.

Food items were distributed to food pantries in Lansford, Nesquehoning and Summit Hill, just in time for Thanksgiving.

Senior Anders Harrison, vice president of FBLA and one of the organizers of the event, said that the contest lasted about a month and a half.

"I'm really happy with what we collected," he said.

Abby Yusella, an 11th-grade student and president of FBLA, agreed, adding that she hopes that more students will take interest in FBLA because its goal is to help the community.

"We're going to be helping a lot of families with this," 11th-grade student Adam Nevenglosky added.

Susan Solt, FBLA adviser, said she was proud of the students, noting that they decided to hold the food drive before Thanksgiving so that they can help fill the pantry shelves for the upcoming holiday.

"I'm pleased with the turnout and the number of items collected," she said, adding that the group's goal was to collect 300 food items. "There is a lot of positive attitude at the school. It's evident with this. I'm really thrilled."

"The school really came together well," said Megan Marouchoc, 11th-grade student and the chairperson of the FBLA fundraising committee.

"We tripled our goal," senior Troy Margerum added.

Solt said that these were just the first of many fundraisers and community events the group is planning. Right now, a yard sale, bake sale and craft fair is in the works for this winter and spring.

The students are also preparing for regional competitions in an attempt to get to nationals and earn scholarships.

FBLA helps students by teaching them about employable skills, leadership and dealing with business owners.

The Panther Valley chapter began in October with 23 members.