in the school and share a message during opening announcements. It was rewarding to see the children’s perseverance as they rewrote and redrew until they were completely satisfied with their work.
In addition to writing, the children worked to refine their oral language abilities. We decided we needed to visit each classroom in order to share our message with the whole school community. Because we didn’t always attend assemblies and tended to ebb and flow in our little sheltered world, we were unknown to many in our school. Bringing the children directly into every classroom demystified them; they became powerful and passionate advocates as they voiced their knowledge and persuaded others to help.
Building Empathy in Children
The personal and social development of children is a major component of our program. Young children learn to recognize themselves as capable members in cohesive community that includes all as equal. Children take care of one another and this positive emphasis on social interaction helps set the foundation for future personal and academic success.
It was with great interest that I watched the children blossom throughout this inquiry. Children willingly spent hours engaged in activities to promote their cause. Many families told us children were initiating discussions at home. As the week wound down we continued to receive large amounts of food and even monetary donations. One grandmother said, “Max even asked me if I could empty our penny jar so that he could give it to the donation box at our local church because there are people there who are in need too.” Like the roots of a mighty oak tree, the children had been successful in spreading their message well beyond the walls of our school.
We ended the food drive feeling victorious! We were amazed that the final count of items totaled just over 5,000 – an unbelievable number in such a short time. We felt that after such a successful project it was imperative the children deliver the items in person. The children spent the final day decorating paper bags with images and words of hope; hearts, flowers and the words We care, We want to help, I love you covered each bag. The sight of those decorated bags, full of food and gathered in the front foyer of the school awaiting delivery, brought tears to my eyes.
We were greeted like celebrities when we arrived at The Mission. The administrative staff was waiting for us, along with many of the children’s family members. But the biggest surprise of all was a reporter from The Windsor Star – the very newspaper that had printed the article that sparked our call to action. The children were so excited!