Garages and basements were filled. Cars were stuffed. Students were up for countless hours last weekend.
When they rubbed their eyes, nearly falling asleep in first period Monday morning, exhausted from working to the wee hours the night before to complete the Thanksgiving rush at Sachem North, it was all worth it when they saw the final food box total: 1,206.
Couple that with Sachem East's 300-plus and that's over 1,500 families that will eat on Thanksgiving because of the annual food drive at both high schools.
North's all-stars, they call themselves the Dirty Dozen and a half, began the process of food drive organization on the first day of school.
"They went beyond what any normal student would do," said Kelly Gochan, the president of North's student government of the original Dirty Dozen that started in 2005 and created a tradition of massive volunteerism. "They stayed out late, made so many boxes for so many families. We kept that legacy going. It's a great opportunity for everyone to be involved and to help all of these families is just wonderful."
Boxes were piled high on the stages at each high school's auditorium this week and were carried one-by-one to trucks, which drove them to local churches, family's homes and the Town of Brookhaven.
"It makes you feel good about what our students are about," said Gary Comstock, North's student government advisor. "It puts the holidays in perspective."
East senior Jimmy Ye, who serves as the president of student government there, said it was difficult gathering food, but the school rallied in the final weeks before the holiday.
"We were standing outside supermarkets," he said. "Going door to door. Building the boxes. Picking up food from neighbors."
"They're life savers," added Bill Kropp, East student government advisor. "You can't put a price on it. This tradition is the best thing that happens in Sachem each year."