Finding the Helpers: Schools compete to support SNAP’s energy assistance program during pandemic

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SPOKANE, Wash. — Local high school teachers and SNAP have teamed up to launch the second annual “Keep the Lights On” campaign, which aims to help families pay their bills during the pandemic.

When SNAP opened up energy bill appointments on January 19, their phone lines were slammed with more than 86,000 call attempts within just a few hours. Even before the pandemic, their assistance program helped 12,586 households keep their electricity on.

RELATED: SNAP Energy Assistance Program Appointments fill up within hours

Now, educators are helping out with their second-ever “Keep the Lights On” campaign — a spirit/donation competition between area schools to support their students and families.

“We’re teachers. We’re lucky we haven’t lost our livelihoods during the pandemic,” said Lewis and Clark teacher, Jennifer Showalter. “This is our opportunity to give back and support our students.”

Showalter started the campaign last May with LC colleagues Mark Robbins and Andrea Bass.

High schools across Spokane County joined in, raising $20,000 in critical funding for SNAP’s energy assistance program. High schools competed to raise the most cash, with Lewis and Clark High School coming in first, followed by Rogers High and Mt. Spokane High.

“I see the financial struggle in my students,” says Showalter. “We have to do something.”

To donate, text LIGHTSON to 71777 — and select the school of your choice to add your donation to their challenge tally. Donations will run through February 26.