Shawnee Mission East and SM South trying to mend rivalry with community service competition

Shawnee Mission East and Shawnee Mission South have teamed up to give basic necessities to Giving The Basics during a four-week competition. (Photo via Giving The Basics/Facebook)
Shawnee Mission East and Shawnee Mission South have teamed up to give basic necessities to Giving The Basics during a four-week competition. (Photo via Giving The Basics/Facebook)

The rivalry between Shawnee Mission East and Shawnee Mission South hasn’t been the most friendly in recent years, but a group of students at both schools are trying to fix it.

The two sides have held meetings on how to make the rivalry a more positive one that doesn’t hinge on maliciousness or destruction. Since the two didn’t play football this year, they’ve decided to create a four-week competition — starting Monday — leading up to the basketball doubleheader on Feb. 24.

[pullquote]

Giving the Basics

Week 1 (Jan. 30- Feb. 2): Laundry Detergent
Week 2 (Feb. 6-9): Shampoo
Week 3 (Feb. 13-16): Deodorant
Week 4 (Feb. 20-23): Toilet Paper
JV tip-off: 5:30 p.m.[/pullquote]

SM East senior Bennett Hense, who has worked with Giving the Basics since his freshman year, thought it would be a good idea for the schools to have a friendly competition that helps the community.

“I hope this competition will break the ice between East and South students, turning a hostile rivalry into a friendly one, as well as begin a tradition,” Hense said. “So that even after our Giving the Basics Summit is over something similar continues.”

Hense said they want to donate more than SM South, but recognized the collective will be greater as they work together. Over the four weeks, they’ll collect laundry detergent, shampoo, deodorant and toilet paper.

He has seen the effect the non-profit has in the community and the Shawnee Mission South students are realizing it, too. Raider senior Sam Schneck said it has opened his eyes to learn that families within the community who aren’t as fortunate as he is.

“We’ve grown up in Johnson County our entire lives — this JoCo bubble — and we’ve never been around actual poverty,” Schneck said. “All we’ve known is a very nice lifestyle. To learn there are people around us who are in need. We are kind of ignorant, not in a bad way, but we purely just don’t know. It’s really cool to be able to help someone who really needs it with basic necessities I couldn’t imagine living without.”

The conversations as well as getting involved with Giving the Basics has put things into perspective that the maliciousness of the rivalry is silly. Schneck said they can put their energy into something more positive instead of putting each other down.

Giving the Basics executive director Teresa Hamilton said the students understand the needs of their peers. She said students who don’t have access to these basic necessities are bullied and tend to not interact at school as they want to draw as little attention to themselves as possible.

“That’s what’s exciting is that a student initiated it because it tells me the eyes of this generation are a lot more for helping others succeed than their own personal success,” Hamilton said.