Reading really does change a student’s life.
When Lincoln Trail fourth-grade student Levi Avery read “Maddie’s Fridge,” a children’s book that addresses childhood hunger, at home, he knew he could do something to help.
“So I talked to my mom,” Levi said.
“I thought I could get with my friends and we could take a wagon around to different places and see if they have any food.”
“And my mom said, ‘You could do a canned food drive.’”
“So I said, ‘Yeah! Let’s talk to Ms. Porter (the Assistant Principal at Lincoln Trail) and see what happens.’”
As Porter listened to the enthusiast fourth-grader in November, she knew that they might be able to put something together.
After talking to Jeff Starwalt, Principal at Lincoln Trail, and other members of staff, Porter returned to Levi in Kara Allison’s classroom, and gave him the good news.
Levi wanted to include his classmates.
So, Allison read “Maddie’s Fridge” to her class, giving Levi a chance to speak to his peers.
The next day, students had the opportunity to sign-up to be part of a committee that would plan a food drive at Lincoln Trail.
“There are just some people who are on the streets begging for money and food when there could be an environment where that does not exist,” Levi said.
Fourteen students signed-up for the food drive committee on their way out to recess. Twelve students showed up to the first committee meeting.
“Now it’s just six people who don’t want to leave,” Levi said.
The six committee members: Levi Avery, Madelyn Brian, Kate Severns, Kayleigh Holt, Olivia Robinson and Ollie Blackman have met with Porter several times a week since December to iron out the logistics of a canned food drive that will take place at Lincoln Trail February 20-23.
Students who bring one canned food item during school next week will get to wear a hat to school, two canned items to wear pajamas, three canned items to wear slippers and four canned items to bring a stuffed animal that will fit in a backpack.
With approximately 700 students at Lincoln Trail, the group hopes to gather 700-1000 canned food items.
But giving isn’t just about getting for the committee members.
Ollie said she wanted to join the group because she knows students at Lincoln Trail who might need help.
Kate said, “I don’t think it’s really fair that that much people in the world don’t get as much food as other people do.”
“When I found out that a lot of people on this planet don’t have a lot of food, I wanted to help out and give them food,” said Kayleigh Holt.
The team hopes to educate their peers about the need through a Google slideshow that they will present to classrooms within Lincoln Trail at the end of the week. They will make posters to put up throughout the school and at the Mahomet IGA.
The committee is also taking turns informing students about the food drive over morning announcements.
Levi’s original idea of taking a wagon around has turned out to be better than he first imagined.
“Ms. Porter had a great idea,” he said. “We could go to IGA, and ask if we can borrow some shopping carts. We are just going to go around all the school with the shopping carts.”
“It’s going to be great.”
This isn’t the first time the students on the committee have given back to their community.
Madelyn and Olivia, were in Kortny Cox’s third-grade class where they created a chocolate cookbook to raise funds to purchase rice and beans for Restoration Urban Ministry in Champaign.
Kate’s second-grade class donated buckets of food to Helping Hands.
But being part of an organizing committee is a first for all six students.
“I’ve never done this. I’ve donated to Helping Hands and put stuff on the shelf at Helping Hands, but I’ve just never been in a full group like this,” Ollie said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been on a committee like this. This is my first time and I’m really glad I joined,” Kayleigh said.
Through this project, the students have also learned that there are also people in Mahomet who need help with food.
“I learned that we had a Helping Hands in our Village,” Ollie said. “I did not know that. I thought there was only one in Champaign.”
Levi said that sometimes all it takes is looking in your own pantry.
“I have enough food,” Kate said. “But some people don’t. I hope everybody has enough.”
The committee said that they hope to continue the project when they enter the fifth grade. And, if possible, keep it going into their years at Mahomet-Seymour Junior High.
“If we bring all of the cans in our town to one place, then we can just set it free and scatter it to people who are hungry over time,” Levi said.