Generosity almost a mile long

The procession of cheering, sign-waving kids stretched almost the entire mile separating Ordway Elementary School from the Helpline House food bank.

Snaking along Madison Avenue, the students beat on drums, smiled at motorists and lugged backpacks full of donated food.

“This feels good because I know it will make other people happy for Thanksgiving,” said third-grader Ellie Devries as she hauled cans of cranberry sauce, olives and soup along with about 400 other students from every Ordway classroom.

The procession briefly snarled traffic on Madison Avenue, but many motorists smiled as their cars idled.

“It’s wonderful,” said Sheryl Todd as she waited a few minutes to enter Madison from her driveway. “It’s community activism starting at a grade school level.”

A corps of volunteers awaited the procession at Helpline, a food bank and social service center that has recently scrambled to keep pace with rising demand.

“A bunch of elementary kids can make a huge difference,” said Helpline director Joanne Tews. Over 1,300 food items flooded into Helpline from upturned sacks and bookbags.

“I feel as if I’ve done my part, and that I can actually go and make a difference,” said fourth-grader Anisa Ashabi.

Ordway’s students have for years donated food the way many schools do around this time of year: put a box in a corner of the classroom and ask students to raid the family pantry. Last year, teachers took their lesson in giving a step further.

“We used to just have them put cans in a box,” said Kindergarten teacher Leslie Alber. “But they never see where it goes. Our kids can really learn to give by physically bringing (donations) to where they’re needed.”

A few Ordway students reap benefits beyond the school lesson.

“Some of my kids use Helpline regularly, and they weren’t afraid to say so,” Alber said. “And they brought donations, too.”

While Helpline counts on Ordway’s donation drive to help keep shelves stocked before Thanksgiving, Tews said her organization benefits even more from the enthusiasm the kids spread among the community.

“Their excitement and interest in giving is infectious for their households,” she said. “And sharing that excitement helps us all.”

2 thoughts on “Generosity almost a mile long

  1. I was in the parade today, and it WAS awesome – and also felt a lot like herding cats. My group of 1st graders wanted to investigate every leaf/branch/rock that we passed. I’d like to give a heartfelt THANKS to the patient cars who waited for our long line of kids to pass.

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