July 20, 2019
One of the things as student council advisor that I wanted to instill in my students was that helping others was something to strive for. Our food drive service project grew each year. Our motto was, “Kids helping kids.”
Our food drive filled another school’s food pantry. The other middle school was a low income school. They had over a 90% free and reduced lunch rate. Most of the student’s used the food pantry. They received assistance to take home food on the weekend. Many of them did not have food at home if they did not get food from the school. The food from school, did not only feed the student attending the school, but also feed siblings from the school.
When I first started out with the food drive as a baby advisor, the food drive was about filling pickup trucks. We wanted to send at least five truck loads to the school. My friend Pat told me it was important. He had built the partnership with the other school through his friendship with the principal George.
In the beginning, it was just about the challenge of getting the trucks filled and making sure we met that goal so as not to disappoint Pat. Pat left my school and I had to build my own relationship with George. I wanted our partnership to continue. Through building that relationship, I learned about the adversity the school’s children were actually facing. It broke my heart.
I began to dig in and really push my food drive. I talked to my students about how we could make changes to the drive and build it up.
Each year the drive got bigger and bigger.
One year, I told George he was going to need a lot of trucks. We had hallways full of food. He rented a small U-Haul truck and we filled it.
From then on, that’s what we did. We rented a truck and we filled.
Each year, George told me he was renting a truck and each year I worried I was not going to fill it.
I had a wonderful group of caring and kind kids. They really wanted a successful food drive. We talked about setting goals. They set a goal of 10,000 canned food items. How do we get more food?
They wanted to partner with our feeder school to bring them in to our drive. I reached out and they all agreed.
They wanted to reach out to the grocery stores and see if we could stand out in front of the stores on certain days and ask for donations. The stores agreed. They filled the back of my van several times.
The students wanted the community to join in more, so they decided to walk door to door with a wagon and ask for canned food donations. We walked every weekend for a month with flyers asking for food donations throughout the neighborhood by the school. They received lots of donations and some cash donations.
Everything was off to a good start.
I, of course, was still worried that we were not going to make our goal.
One evening, after teaching yoga, I sat in silence and meditated and prayed on it. I just prayed to the cosmic universe to open up and help my students meet their goal. They were working so hard at helping others. Give them the energy to see things through. Heaven help us reach 10,000.
It was as if someone was standing right next me. Someone whispered in my ear, “Twenty thousand is your goal.”
I was alone in the studio. My mom was out front closing up. I opened my eyes. I was truly alone. Someone had spoken to me from the universe. Our new goal was 20,000.
My students knew I could be a bit crazy. I told them about my vision. They didn’t think I was crazy. They just said they thought it was doable.
We continued with our efforts.
In the classrooms at schools, we had classroom competitions on who was bringing in the most food. We gave away prizes to students who brought in the most food. We had weekly giveaways and rewards.
I had certain teachers I knew I could count on that could bring in thousands of canned food items in their classrooms just by themselves.
Teachers were stealing other teacher’s food from other classrooms. Teachers were bribing kids to give them their food instead of giving it to other teachers.
Whatever the means, I encouraged all the infighting if it meant we were getting donations.
This year, the principal and I decided we were going to take the student council kids with us on the pick-ups from the other school and the final delivery to the receiving middle school. This had not been done before. My students were very excited about this process.
The food was pouring in. The offices were packed with boxes. The hallways were packed. Classrooms were overflowing.
I called George and told him I thought we might need two trucks. He brought two trucks.
The day of collection, there was a buzz in the air. My student all wore matching shirts. They were excited. They began to collect the food from the classrooms and collect totals of food from the teachers. Teachers were also emailing me totals so I could get an electronic count.
There was also the one or two teachers who had NOT counted their food and we had to stop everything and count 400 cans of peas. It was frustrating but not the end of the world.
The kids hauled box after box to the front of the school. Two U-Haul trucks were backed up to the front of the school. We loaded box after box.
We filled one and a half of the trucks. We still needed to go to three sister schools.
My students were loaded into some volunteer parent cars. My boss and I loaded into his vehicle. We followed the U-Hauls to the next school. We caravanned from school to school loading and packing, playing Tetris with boxes and trying to get the back of the trucks to close.
We were very successful but we had our final stop to unload.
We made our way to delivery our goods. The receiving school’s student council came out to meet my student council. It was a cool moment council to council. Kids meeting kids. Kids helping kids.
They all pitched in and got to work.
The food from the two trucks filled an entire classroom. It was packed.
We started a tradition that day. We started taking the kids on the pick-up and delivery and we took them out to eat. George paid for the kids to get lunch. We took them out to the buffet. They loved it.
At the end of the day, I added up the total. The total of all the donations from our school and our sister schools was over 25,000 canned food items. The kids’ original goal and my whispered goal all came to fruition.
Kids helping kids. The food drive went on to be successful the following year with around the same amount of items.
This is one of my proudest moments as an advisor. The kids believed they could do something. Set it in motion and made it happen. Yes, I helped but they believed in their project. They set a goal, did the work and made the magic happen.