Elementary school classrooms are often filled with excitement and curiosity – and even a healthy dose of “We want to change the world.” Ms. Wolfe’s students at Belle Haven Elementary are modeling that change, one bag of rice (or jar of peanut butter) at a time.
This enterprising group asked their teacher to help them host a school-wide food drive during the month of October to support YWCA Dayton’s onsite food pantry.
“The students chose YWCA because they are passionate about feeding the homeless and because YWCA always sends a thank-you note for donations, which means a lot to the children,” Wolfe said.
YW operates four housing programs (including Permanent Supportive Housing, Homeless Crisis Response Program, Rapid Rehousing, and HomeShare) serving women and families who have faced homelessness or housing instability, often due to domestic violence or past trauma.
“Our crew of 5th and 6th graders were on a mission and ready to unload containers, post flyers, and engage the school in making our world a nicer place,” Wolfe said.
Jennine Cunningham, YW’s food and sustainability coordinator, said that the sixth graders were in charge of the project but worked with the whole school to collect the food items. “Ms. Wolfe is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to her students and food insecurity,” she said.
In just four weeks, the students gathered nearly 100 canned and dry goods and even a few personal care items. “Their donation has already helped eight women, and ensured our pantry stayed well-stocked,” Cunningham said. Currently, the YW food pantry serves an average of 30 women every month.
The class delivered food with a side of inspiration – Wolfe has since signed up to volunteer regularly with YW food operations. Said Cunningham, “Seeing people get inspired by what we do – that’s the icing on the cake.”