NEWS
10/03/2011 05:00 EDT | Updated 12/03/2011 05:12 EST

Montreal school fails to set Guinness record, but does make a difference

MONTREAL - A Montreal high school may not have made the Guinness World Records — but it has still managed to make a difference.

John Rennie High School was hoping to break the world record for the largest food drive but announced Monday that it had fallen significantly short of the goal.

The school said, however, that it had still collected enough food to stock the shelves of a popular local program for two years.

After a last-minute push for donations, John Rennie students managed to collect more than 72,000 kilograms of food. That was less than one-third of the school's original goal of 254,000 kilos.

The high school on Montreal's West Island was hoping to beat the current world record, set by a university in North Carolina.

Teacher Brian Swirsky, who organized the food drive which involved 33 schools, said it was worth the effort.

All the food collected will help stock the shelves of "Dans la rue," a local support group for street kids.

Swirsky said the organization has come to rely on John Rennie to keep its shelves filled for the months of October and November, when it is traditionally short on food.

"They told me last Thursday they had no food left so the timing is perfect," he said in an interview Monday.

Swirsky also said he noticed a drastic change in the attitude of students over the past four weeks.

"I have, on more than one occasion, had to turn away volunteers," he said. "Students were willing to give their weekends, give up their evenings."

Swirsky said the project got all the students excited.

"It feels like it's a week before Christmas and that's how it's been for the last four weeks in the school."

The food collection hauled in 20,000 cans of soup and more than 12,000 boxes of Kraft Dinner. Swirsky said donations came from as far away as New Hampshire.

He said he has no plans to try again to break any world records.

But Swirsky wants to write a book about fundraising which, he says, will make mention of some of the pitfalls and successes he's learned along the way.