Members of the Coupeville Elementary Leadership Club have had a great lesson in community service.
The group helped organize a food drive in December for Gifts From the Heart Food Bank. This was the second year the fourth-and fifth- graders, who belong to the leadership club, took on the community service project. According to club supervisor and Coupeville Elementary teacher Jon Gabelein, students nearly doubled the amount of food collected last year and surpassed their goal for this year.
“They did so well, they almost doubled the goal,” he said. “They collected 1,813 items this year. The goal was 1,500 for the school. Last year they collected 1,041 items.”
The class was very enthusiastic about their successful campaign. They said they watched and worried the first couple of weeks, then came up with a campaign to get students to bring in donations. The last two weeks of the food drive, members of the leadership club came up with a script that was read during the announcements every day.
A big incentive to get children to participate was the reward: all classrooms that reached their goal received a “Lollipop Dance” from school principal David Ebersole. While that idea drove half the school to reach its goal, members of the leadership club wanted to reach the goal for another good reason.
“Everybody wants a good meal on the holidays and we wanted the school to be able to give them a good meal,” said Avalon Renninger, 10.
“It’s not about getting a surprise, but about helping people get food,” said 9-year-old Genna Wright.
“It’s not about receiving,” agreed Sean Toomey-Stout, 11. “It’s about showing you care so people don’t feel sad and left out at the holidays.”
Students had a good system in place. Each member of the leadership club was in charge of tallying up donations for a particular class each week, and bringing those figures to Mr. Gabelein to track. As the piles of donations grew larger, so did the students’ excitement.
“Whenever you would go past the boxes of food it would make you feel happy,” said Zoe Trujillo, 10.
“There was a lot of food,” said Luci Coleburn, 10. “When I looked at the pile at the end of the week there was three times as much as we have at our house and it made me feel happy.”
“It was hard to carry all the boxes,” said Willow Vick, 11.
“Every tub was overflowing,” said Marenna Rebischke-Smith, 10.
“I got to type in all the numbers and when I looked at the grand total, I thought ‘This is going to be such a great year for all the families that need food,’” said 11-year-old Raven Vick.
“It gives you a good feeling,” said Anna Dion, 10. “It’s fun to know you’re helping to make someone happy.”
“We did it at the right time, because it felt good to help make someone’s Christmas,” said 11-year-old Maya Tooney-Stout.
All in all, it was a great lesson for these students, said Gabelein. “Now they know how rewarding it is to give back and that they can do it no matter how young they are,” he said.