LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's an Eastern High School annual tradition of giving back to the community and this holiday season was no different.

For the past three weeks, students and staff have been busy collecting money and canned goods as part of the school's Holiday Care-A-Van. 

After spending the early morning hours sorting through the donations and putting together baskets filled with canned goods, baking mixes, sugar, flour, apples, potatoes, turkeys and other food items, a group of seniors delivered hundreds of baskets to needy families who live in Eastern's community.

This year, the students collected $18,000 in cash and 5,000 pounds of food, including canned goods and fresh fruits and vegetables. The food was placed into 230 baskets for delivery to the community. In addition, the students donated a $5,000 check to Dare to Care. 

A total of four school buses carrying 70 seniors were delivering the baskets to homes in the community as well as the Chenoweth Woods Senior Living apartments. 

Eastern High senior Jamie Johnson said this year, in an effort to "turn up the heat," the school made it into a competition among the different grade levels so they could all get spirit points. 

This year the seniors picked up the most cash donations, but the juniors brought in the most food items. 

"This is a huge Eastern High School tradition that has helped so many in the community for many years," Johnson said. 

School officials say the Holiday Care-A-Van first began in the late 1960s. It has grown into the biggest philanthropic project organized by students in Eastern's National Honor Society.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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