By Tyler Allen EBS Senior Editor

BIG SKY – The Lone Peak High School cafeteria was a flurry of activity after the school bell rang on Nov. 3. Twenty girls in grades 3-5 and their volunteer helpers were furiously scooping, weighing, bagging and steam-sealing supplies for the local food bank.

Girls on the Run meets twice weekly for 11 weeks, from September to December, and is part of the Girls for a Change program that began in the Big Sky School District this school year. The curriculum is part of Bozeman-based Thrive, a nonprofit that also runs the CAP mentoring program in the district.

The GOTR team took 25-pound bags of sugar, flour, pancake mix, and other staples, and repackaged it into 1/4-cup quantities to be distributed from the Big Sky Community Food Bank. They also used colored markers and glitter glue to begin work on 100 Thanksgiving cards the food bank will hand out with holiday packages.

The girls had the opportunity to practice their math and motor skills, as well as learn how to work as a team, according to BSSD’s CAP Mentor Coordinator Julie Grimm. They also had to use the three tenets of the program – collaborate, cooperate and compromise – to decide which organization they were going to support. Other nominees included Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter and putting together care packages for patients at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital.

“I love that they chose the local [organization] that is in their community,” Grimm said, adding that everything GOTR does weaves in physical activity.

“You don’t have to be a runner, it’s all about moving forward,” Grimm said. “It’s an opportunity to learn about themselves and working with others.” The girls did weave some running and walking into their curriculum on Nov. 5 when they held a practice 5K outside the school in anticipation of the annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K run.

Third-grader Maddie Mars said she signed up for GOTR for both the physical activity and community service the program offered.

“I wanted to run, [and] I wanted to just have fun and be a part of it,” Mars said. “Some people need extra food for Thanksgiving or for something else, and that’s why I think it’s important to help the food bank.”

And they certainly did help, repackaging more than 200 pounds of food to be distributed during the holiday season.