This year, third graders at Northwestern Elementary School collected $151.45 and personal care items to donate to the Northwestern Food Pantry.
Food pantry Director Steve Smith, pictured with the students, said this dollar amount would be used to purchase 1,165 pound of food for families in need.
Third grade teacher Cherie Kopac said the idea to donate came about a few years ago when the commercialism of the Christmas season became the focus for students.
“We shifted toward giving back, being thankful, and thinking of others, which lead us to the Northwestern Food Pantry,” Kopac said. “Steve Smith has come each year to speak to the students about how the food pantry works, how their donation benefits the community, and how much he and the other pantry personnel appreciate this generous gesture.”
Third grade teachers also read “Princess Scargo and the Birthday Pumpkin” to students.
In the story, a young Native American girl gives up a precious birthday gift in order to save her village. The girl completes acts of selflessness, which end up saving the lives of everyone in her tribe. However, she never tells anyone about her personal sacrifices.
Kopac said the students are then led through lessons that focus on giving to others, giving back, appreciating what you have and not focusing on what you want.
“The students essentially forego their traditional Christmas party, and instead donate the funds that would be used toward a lavish party and gift exchange to the pantry,” Kopac said. “They enjoy this tremendously and truly notice the impact they have on the community when Steve comes to pick up the donations and thank the them for their contribution.”