A Juneteenth food drive hosted by the Prior Lake High School Black Student Union received over 50 donations by midday Friday, June 19, according to student organizers.

Beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, students and staff members accepted non-perishable food and hygiene products at the high school to be delivered to Minneapolis food shelf Community Emergency Service the following Monday.

The event was scheduled to end at 2 p.m., but students said they would stay and continue accepting donations for several hours after that while donors continued to arrive.

“I thought it was going to just be a little something, but we had to get more tables,” high school senior and union communication manager Jayla Henderson said. “Now we’re putting things on the ground and trying to make as much space as we can. People just keep coming.”

Henderson said the Black Student Union decided to host a food drive to support Minneapolis communities with food access following protests in the city over the death of 46-year-old George Floyd.

Video of three Minneapolis police officers pinning a handcuffed Floyd to the ground by kneeling on his neck until his death sparked weeks of protests in the metro and nation.

Minneapolis Police officers Derek Chauvin, Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were fired in connection to the incident and now face criminal charges.

National celebrations of Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, took on added fervor this year as they coincided with ongoing protests and discussions about racism throughout society and police brutality.

“When this first happened, I really didn’t think Prior Lake would respond due to the lack of diversity and with how they responded to last year’s racial issues,” Henderson said. “But once I saw that people were posting and signing petitions, I knew that they would want to do something bigger.”

Henderson said she’s been impressed by the district’s support of the student union in setting up and carrying out the food drive. About 21 students, teachers and district staff volunteered to help take donations on Friday.

She said that the Black Student Union will likely plan a followup event to support Minneapolis communities later in the summer thanks to the positive local response.

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