Joining Community Helpers
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify and describe how civil society organizations help the community.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.1 Explore and research issues and present solutions using communication tools.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
      3. Benchmark E.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.

This lesson is intended for use in the "Community Helpers" unit. For this lesson, the role of a community helper from the governmental sector, the mail carrier, is explored. Students will evaluate the importance of an efficient movement of products and ideas in the community. The special tie between the National Association of Letter Carriers and the United Way is investigated with the annual food drive held on the second Saturday of May each year. Students participate with letters to inform and remind adults of the campaign. The lesson concludes with a visit from another community helper, a representative of a local United Way agency receiving the collected food.

PrintTwo or Three Twenty-Minute Class Periods
The learner will:
  • describe how the mail carrier and the United Way are community helpers.
  • trace the movement of ideas and goods in the community.
  • explain how families can support giving and sharing in the community.
  • Mail Carriers by Dee Ready (see Bibliographic References)
  • Sample mail: letter, postcard, package, junk mail
Home Connection: 
Interactive Parent / Student Homework:In the unit on community helpers, students will be studying about mail carriers. They will read a book about them, learn vocabulary related to them and learn about the annual National Food Day. On the second Saturday of May on their regular routes, mail carriers pick up cans of donated non-perishable food and have them delivered to the local United Way agencies for distribution. Students will write a letter explaining the food drive and urge participation in the drive.
  • Kottke, Jan. A Day with a Mail Carrier. New York: Children's Press, 2000. ISBN: 0516230158.

  • Ready, Dee. Mail Carriers. Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press, 1998. ISBN: 1560655577.

  • Schaefer, Lola M. We Need Mail Carriers. Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press, 2000. ISBN: 0736803920.

  • Siracusa, Catherine. No Mail for Mitchell. New York: Random House, 1990. ISBN: 0679804765.
  1. Anticipatory Set: Show the learners the letter (in an envelope), the postcard, the package and the piece of junk mail. Ask them what community helper brings them to you.
  2. Identify the community helper as the mail carrier. Like police and fire fighters, they work for the government, not for a business that makes money. Ask the learners to describe the mail carrier. (They can mention the blue uniform, the letter pouch or mail cart, the white truck with red, white and blue stripes, and maybe even the eagle on the logo.)
  3. Read Mail Carriers (or one of the other books in Bibliographic References). As you read, go over vocabulary words and let the learners define them. Examples might be:
  4. mail carrier: the person who brings the mail to a house or business
  5. address: the number and street of a house or a business
  6. deliver: to bring something to someone
  7. mail: letters, postcards, packages which the mail carrier brings
  8. post office: the government building where mail is brought to be delivered and where people buy stamps
  9. route: the places the mail carrier visits every day to deliver the mail
  10. mailbox: the place where the mail carrier puts the mail when it is delivered; also, the big box, belonging to the post office, where people drop off their mail to be delivered
  11. pouch: the mail carrier's sack which holds the mail while it is being delivered.
  12. Using the geographic theme of "Movement," trace on a large sheet of paper the "route" a letter or package would take on its way from one place to another. (birthday card from Grandmother --> Grandmother's post office >> plane or truck to your post office --> Grandmother's card sorted with other mail --> delivered by your mail carrier to your mailbox)
  13. Ask the learners how important it is to have a post office and mail carriers. What would happen if the post office stopped delivering mail?
  14. Tell the learners that mail carriers across the country have one special day a year when they don't just deliver mail. On the second Saturday of May, they pick up cans of food that people donate for those who don't have enough to eat. On another large sheet of paper, trace the "route" that these canned goods take to get to the people who need them. (my house --> mail carrier --> my post office --> United Way agency --> hungry people)
  15. Ask the learners if they think this is a good way to get food to the hungry. (Explain that the mail carrier doesn't deliver food to hungry people. There are special agencies that know who needs the food and gets it to them.) Ask the learners if they would like to get involved with this special day. Explain that the giving and sharing of things we have to help others is called philanthropy.
  16. Invite a representative of a local food bank, pantry, shelter (a United Way agency) that receives food to visit the class and explain how their work helps the community. Explain that the people from United Way agencies who provide help to the community are also known as community helpers. They work in nonprofit agencies which serve to help people, not make lots of money.
  17. As a group effort, design a letter that each student can write to remind others to donate a can of food on the second Saturday of May. The letters can be delivered to other classes in the school, can be taken home or sent to each child's home in time for the drive.
The completed letter, as well as student participation in the discussion, will serve as an assessment.