Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Raking leaves, taking care of pets and washing dishes were just some of the many chores the 52 Eisenhower Elementary School sixth-graders completed to earn nearly $1,000 to use toward groceries for the Catholic Charities Support Center.
Students bought the groceries during a shopping trip Dec. 6 to the Fort Leavenworth Commissary.
“We encourage our students to earn their donation to this service project,” said Aimee Phillips, Eisenhower sixth-grade teacher. “The reason we did this was so our students learn to recognize that hard, and often tedious, work is rewarded. Our students learned that even though they earned a lot of money, it may not buy as much as they thought it would at the grocery store, and all of these are life-long lessons for our students.”
During the shopping trip, the students divided into small groups of about four or five with less than $100 per group to spend. In each group, there was a recorder and a budget person to keep track of what they bought.
“The assignment does not go without a math lesson in ratio and unit rates,” said Debbie Salvatorelli, Eisenhower sixth-grade teacher. “Students discuss the concept of wants versus needs.
“Students also learn how to find ‘the best buy” and a little consumer math is involved also,” she said. “Before shopping, students make a shopping list with healthy food choices.”
Items bought included tuna, canned fruit, green beans and peanut butter.
Students said it made them feel good knowing they were using their own money to buy the groceries.
“It makes me feel better as a person,” said 12-year-old David Findley. “Helping others is a good thing because humans need to interact with each other and helping each other is just a thing we should do because it makes you feel better and improves other people’s lives.”
Findley said he earned money by raking leaves, mowing the lawn and helping his mom at the house. He said raking leaves was his favorite chore.
“Raking, it is kind of a fun thing to do,” Findley said. “Then you get to push the leaves into a pile, and it is kind of satisfying for me.”
Saylor Chase, 11, said she not only liked that they earned the money themselves, but that they were completing the shopping trip on St. Nicholas Day.
“He did good for other people and now we’re doing the same,” Chase said. “I hope that this makes people feel like people care for them, and they feel like they have a good Christmas time and good holidays.”
Chase said she earned her money by raking her neighbor’s yard.
Parents said they liked the project, too.
“(Earning the money themselves), I think that is what I like best about this project because it is one thing to take stuff over to the food pantry, but that they are really getting no financial gain out of it that is for themselves,” said Laura Draves, mother of 12-year-old Emma Draves. “They are not coming home with a box of cookies that they are going to eat. They are giving back.
“Not only are they working on math and educational skills, but they are working on the social, emotional skills of providing service, doing service for others,” she said.
Draves said Emma earned money by helping with chores around the house.
Tammy Brown, mother of 11-year-old McKenzie Brown, said she thinks the project helped the students build life skills.
“The most important thing is giving back to the community and instilling that value in them, letting them realize that hard work is very important and that you don’t always keep the money for yourself, but you can always give back,” Brown said.
Brown said McKenzie earned her money by helping prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday by cleaning the house and helping cook the meal.
Whether it is learning to budget money or learning the importance of helping others, Amy Reinhold, Eisenhower sixth-grade teacher, said they are all important lessons for the students to learn.
“Students are never too young to learn the good feeling of helping others. Our students have come to realize that by helping others, they are actually helping themselves become better leaders of tomorrow,” Reinhold said. “As teachers, we want our students to realize that there are rewards in helping others. These rewards include giving to their community, helping others and the gentle and loving feeling of generosity. We want this generosity to be a life-long habit.”