Ms. Ferris and Ms. Smith are Life Skills Teachers at Wildwood Elementary School in Michigan. “I want my students to learn how to give back to their community. Many times, when thinking about this I realized that the children are not vested in it. At our school, we do a lot of money or item collections. The kids are not directly involved in the projects. I want them to realize that they are part of the community and they can make a difference,” said Ms. Ferris.
Around 450 K-4 students participated in the service-learning project Lunches of Love after using the Learning to Give lesson It's Philanthropy. The lesson introduced what philanthropy is, the difference between being hungry and starving, and what a soup kitchen is.
The Learning to Give mini-grant provided the supplies needed to make the lunches and a few card making kits. The card kits will be given to new students at Wildwood to welcome them to the school community.
Academically, students learned to write for a targeted audience with a purpose. Many social studies topics including community and the common good were included to make class connections. The students also got to express themselves with the artwork that was found on the bags.
Lunches of Love helped the students learn about social awareness (perspective taking and appreciating similarities and differences) and responsible decision making (making ethical decisions and strengthening the ability to develop appropriate solutions to identified problems).
Students reflected on their positive experience:
"Now I can help my mom and make lunches for my family when she is busy."
"I am going to do some philanthropy and clean up the playground at recess today."
"I feel good that I was able to help a hungry person in my community all by myself."
"I am going to ask my mom if we can go volunteer at the soup kitchen."
"I can't wait to do more philanthropy projects!"
"Before this project, I didn't know kids could make a difference in our community."
Following this project, Ms. Ferris’ students enjoy discussing what they can do to help in the community. After this project, students felt a deeper connection to their community and developed an understanding that there are ways kids can give back.
The students are eager to continue working on philanthropy projects! “They wanted to know when we were going to be able to do the next project,” said Ms. Smith.