The annual Ranger Strong Week makes a much anticipated return for 2019



“I love seeing everybody get involved. I love seeing kids put money in the bucket and help each other out. I just love doing it for those families.”


“I think if people really could understand how we have changed the lives of those kids [through Ranger Strong Week]—I think [it] would make a big difference.”


“Last year, we raised $14,000. I was so humbled; I was in tears. I couldn’t believe it. [It was] amazing.”

History teacher and Student Council Advisor Laura Stiles never falters in her adamant admiration of what Forest Hill Central High School has done and continues to do, and Ranger Strong Week is no exception. 

Ranger Strong Week is a week-long fundraiser that benefits the Family Promise of Grand Rapids in order to provide funds for their Holiday Store, which creates an affordable source for presents during the holiday season. The Holiday Store prices all sorts of items ranging from toys to necessities at a fraction of their original cost. These bargains allow for the less fortunate families in the West Michigan area to provide gifts for their loved ones  and partake in the spirit of giving. 

The success of the Holiday Store and its existence itself relies on the donations made by FHC students and their families during Ranger Strong Week. With an abundance of activities, Ranger Strong Week makes it easy to donate to Family Promise’s worthy cause. 

“My wish is that everybody can think outside [of themselves] and get outside [of] themselves for one week [and] get involved and have some fun,” Stiles said. “If everybody brings ten dollars, nobody has to bring a thousand, and it makes it a true school-wide philanthropy project.”

With a goal to fundraise $12,000 and a student body population of roughly 1,200, a ten-dollar donation from every student would easily reach this year’s goal. The way each student can choose to donate, however, is what adds to the grandeur of Ranger Strong Week.

RangerGrams are being sold every day at lunch, the annual dodgeball tournament will be returning—teams can enter for the price of fifty dollars,five dollars per person—the Culver’s Night will donate a portion of customers’ costs to the cause, and students—as always—are encouraged to donate to the donation buckets at lunch. A week of giving will all lead up to the assembly on Friday, which will showcase the finale of the dodgeball tournament as well as a 600-student strong performance.

“We’re trying to figure out everything,” Stiles said. “Everything we can do to make it fun and inspire people to give. I think a lot of [the inspiration] is going to come from the attitude of the Student Council kids. Last year, the [Student Council] kids stood up in their classes and explained Family Promise and encouraged kids to give all week long. The Student Council voice needs to be strong, and I think it will [be].”

Junior Koyuki Buckhold is the Student Body Vice President and one of these impassioned voices that led Ranger Strong Week to a fruitful finale last year. Because of last year’s success, her expectations for this year’s results have already been set.

“Because of the success we had last year,” Koyuki said, “I think [it is] very feasible for us to reach our goal again this year and exceed our goal, and I really hope to see participation from everyone.”

The end goal of $12,000 is the main thing buzzing around the heads of students and faculty alike during Ranger Strong Week, but for Koyuki, the end goal is something a little different.

While the money matters, what Koyuki cares most about is its impact. Being a volunteer at last year’s Holiday Store, she has first-hand experience of seeing the effect the Ranger Strong Week has on the families it was designed to help, and she hopes to see that impact again. 

“It’s very gratifying being a Christmas elf or helping out with cookie decorating and just seeing the room [with] all the toys that we bought for these children,” Koyuki said. “It’s also fulfilling [to see] the families come in to buy these toys. It just shows how much we can do.”

Koyuki is hoping to lead by example and partake in the many activities that Ranger Strong Week has to offer. While this may entail a financial cost, her kind and generous mindset outweighs any monetary value. 

“There are ways that everyone can get involved,” Koyuki said. “Even by going to Culver’s night or giving spare change at lunch or joining the dodgeball tournament. It’s nothing that you won’t spend on a coffee once a week before school or after school [and it] could really make or break somebody’s holiday season this year.”

An aspect of Ranger Strong Week that was more recently added is the donation made to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. History Teacher Steve Labenz is no stranger to finding any means necessary to show his gratitude to those who courageously served our country, and donating during Ranger Strong Week is just one of the ways he attempts to give back. 

“Contrary to what many might believe, veterans funding has often been cut over the years, and last year was no different.”

Last year, $2,000 of the total donations made from Ranger Strong Week were donated to the Veterans’ Home in order to save an art program that had lost funding. 

“Their art program, which runs on a shoestring budget of only about $2,000 a year, was being cut, and our donation allowed them to keep it going,” Labenz said. “For many of the vets, it’s the one thing they look forward to doing each week, so we were glad we could keep it functioning.”

The art program, Holiday Store, and Christmas trees of West Michigan’s less fortunate families are all going to look a little different than they would regularly because of the assistance given by Ranger Strong Week. 

The pride, tradition, and excellence that Forest Hills Central holds so dearly will be showcased this week and will greatly impact members of the community as a result. Forest Hills Central’s partnership with Family Promise through the means of Ranger Strong Week is increasingly establishing its permanence in the woven history of FHC, and this week will be another stitch.

“I think the most important thing is that everybody gives a little,” Stiles said. “If everybody gives a little, nobody has to give a lot.”