N–2 food drive

N–2 students collect food, spread kindness

It’s morning meeting time for Annie Ha’s N3 classroom, and the Rainbow Star kids brim with excitement as she hangs a series of hearts on the whiteboard, each one representing a single can of food that the students have collected. Today's number, 361, is met with excitement as the students picture the families in need who will be receiving their donation to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “We’re doing it for people who don’t have food,” explains one of the three-year-olds. “This makes me feel happy and calm,” says another.

N3 food drive stacking cansHa started a holiday food drive with her students in 2020 as a way not only to provide aid in a difficult time for many, but also to give her learners an object lesson in how to support their community. “We wanted to do it again because of how successful it was in providing them an opportunity to learn while doing,” Ha says. “The students are involved in every step of the process, from making the signs, to hanging the signs up, to decorating the boxes, to carrying the heavy cans in their backpacks, to counting the cans. While we gave them the foundation, this project is completely theirs, and they have really taken ownership and agency in their work.”

In addition to lessons in counting, art, and organization, the project is giving Ha an opportunity to engage the class in weightier topics. “It provided a fresh perspective to the traditional Thanksgiving narrative,” she explains. “Celebrating the spirit of gratitude, appreciation, and kindness, we had many great discussions about how we are thankful for what we have and what we can do to share with those who may be in need.”

As of press time, the campaign had collected 470 cans, and Ha hopes that it has shown her students “that little projects like this can go a long way and help us rethink old traditions and start new ones.” While these students may be small, Ha and her Rainbow Stars are having an impact that is big and only getting bigger.

N3 classroom filling box with cans

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