Sara Hanley, Patton Junior High School seventh-grader, loads donated food items for transport to the Leavenworth Mission Community Store/Food Pantry with the help of her mother, Melissa Hanley, after school April 28 at Patton. Sara organized a food drive as a "passion project" for one of her classes, which amounted to more than 500 non-perishable food items being collected for those in need in the community. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

When Sara Hanley, Patton Junior High School seventh-grader, was assigned a passion project by her teacher, she said it wasn’t hard to choose hers.


“We had to choose something that we were passionate about and do a project on it,” Hanley said. “I’m really passionate about helping people in my local community, so I chose to do a food drive, so I could help people.”

Sara Hanley, Patton Junior High School seventh-grader, moves donated food items, collected during her “passion project” food drive, to load them for transport to the Leavenworth Mission Community Store/Food Pantry after school April 28 at Patton. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


From March 22 through April 22, Hanley organized and conducted a food drive at Patton for the Leavenworth Mission Community Store/Food Pantry.


“Students were asked to choose a topic they were passionate about and learn more about it by spending a portion of their (class time) each week on it. Each student was required to create a product from (his or her) research. This could be an essay, a work of art, a short story, a speech, or any number of items depending on the topic they chose,” said Grace Behrens, Patton seventh-grade English language arts teacher. “My ultimate goal with the project was for students to be engaged in learning about something they care about and for them to see the fruits of their labor at the end of the project.


“Sara has gone above and beyond with her food drive this year, and part of her product through this progress is not only her contributions to the food pantry but also a binder outlining her process for implementing this food drive so future students can start one,” she said. “She is a driven young lady who really wants to make a difference. Sara has taken charge from day one and provided a model example of what one student can do with drive and focus on a goal.”


In addition to donations and putting a binder together, Hanley had to choose the right place, get permission from Patton Principal Ryan Wiebe and find ways to encourage students to donate.


“I wanted to motivate people to donate, so I talked to the principal, and he said I could have incentives,” Hanley said. “I could have a pizza party for the class that donated the most overall and the popcorn party for each class in the grade levels that had the most.”
Wiebe said he was happy to support Hanley in the project.


“(The food drive) is something that this year (students) didn’t think they could do, but when Sara did such a good job planning it and the purpose for it supporting the community and the food bank, I absolutely said, ‘Yes,’” Wiebe said. “She didn’t think she could afford or provide rewards, but I said I could take care of any and all rewards.
“The students did a great job of bringing in items,” he said.

Twelve-year-old Sara Hanley, Patton Junior High School seventh-grader, looks at some of the donated food items, collected during her “passion project” food drive, while loading them for transport to the Leavenworth Mission Community Store/Food Pantry after school April 28 at Patton. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


She also wrote blog posts on the progress of her project on Kidblog, a safe student publishing site, which was shared with her classmates for feedback.


Hanley’s efforts led to the donation of more than 500 non-perishable food items to the food pantry April 28.


“It was evident that Sara put a lot of effort into the coordination of a successful food drive for the Mission Food Pantry. We received a variety of pasta, cereals and canned goods,” said Iris Arnold, Leavenworth Mission Community Store/Food Pantry president. “These donations will help us to make food boxes and feed 500 families that rely on services from the mission each month.”


Hanley said she now just hopes the donation to the food pantry does the community good.


“My hope is that it can go to people in our local community who need help and that it can help them have a little less stress about what they need to do and maybe help them focus on something other than food and get them a little better set up,” Hanley said.

Hanley shared some of her blog posts with The Fort Leavenworth Lamp. See below.

Patton Food Drive!!!!!
By Sara Hanley on Feb 19, 2021
My Passion Project is to run a food drive here at Patton. This is important to me because if I raise enough food, I can help a lot of people in my local community. I hate that some people have less than others. I hope to help as many people as possible through this project. I hope to learn about how I can help my local community. I will measure my success by how much food I raise per week. So far, I have three charities that I may be able to donate to. I have decided to make posters and boxes to place around the school once I find out what I need to collect. Once you start seeing boxes, please donate!


Calling out for boxes!!!!
By Sara Hanley on Feb 23, 2021
Hey everyone! My food drive is off to a great start, but I need help! If you have boxes at home, bring them in! I really need them! 20 boxes is my goal. One box from each student and I will have more boxes than I need! Remote students, you can drop boxes off at the office if you want to help. Bring in big Amazon boxes, Chewy, any good-sized boxes you have laying around the house. Thank you!


Approval at last!!!!

By Sara Hanley on Mar 10, 2021

Yay!! I got approval for the food drive! I met with Mr. Wiebe and he was apparently unsure as to whether or not I had approval, so he had to email the other principals. I got approval on Monday, and started printing my papers on Tuesday. I made a video this morning for teachers to show students tomorrow morning, asking for student volunteers. Next week I plan to start food collection if all goes well. I learned about how I can make things easier to handle, and gathered more ideas on how to do things differently. I also learned that if you put in the effort, a lot can be accomplished in a week.

My next step is to pick student volunteers and have them keep track of how much food their class donates. I hope to find a rhythm that I can stick to throughout the food drive.

This week I got approval, I printed my papers, and I filmed my video. One setback I encountered was being told not to publicize any more until I got approval, and then not getting approval until Monday. I overcame this setback by working hard, but I may have to push back the start time.


Starting off!
By Sara Hanley on Mar 25, 2021
I have finally started running the food drive!! The boxes are out, the volunteers are informed, and the posters are hung!! I never thought I would actually be able to pull it off, but I somehow did! All I have to do now is let the donations come in, collect them, continue weekly maintenance, and of course fill in my Master Chart. I think I’m going to make a binder about how I achieved this so other students can run food drives in the future. I have also put a box in the teachers lounge for the staff to donate to the food drive. My amazing friends Izzie, Annabelle, and Abbigayle helped me hang up posters all around the school. You can hardly walk down a hallway without seeing at least one!! I also really appreciate Abbigayle and Sierra’s help reconstructing boxes, using a map, and carting boxes around the school. Thank you! Also, thank you to all of you wonderful people who volunteered! I hope that I can get some donations from all of you guys reading this! If we work together and all do our part, we can help a lot of people here in our local community who need it.


Going well!
By Sara Hanley on Apr 12, 2021
My food drive is successfully in progress, and is going well!! I call volunteers to the Tiger Pit twice a week. I usually take the volunteer from my class, and one other to help with what I need to do a?er, which is to bag the food and put it away. A?er that, we re-deliver the boxes. I also found a way that I can make this count for my Silver Award for Girl Scouts, which is the highest award I can earn at my level, which is Cadette. To do this, I have to make a lasting impact on my community. To make a lasting impact, I have decided to make a binder of everything I’ve done for this food drive. Included in the binder are all of my charts, checklists, posters, and other information and advice. I also included how I did everything, and my scripts that I wrote. Running a food drive is a lot harder than it looks! I am very proud of how everything is going. The plan is for the food drive to end next week, but I will try to release another video officially announcing it. Thanks to all of my amazing volunteers, you are all making this so much easier! Thank you!!!


Final Blog post
By Sara Hanley on Apr 26, 2021
Hi everyone! I hope that you are having a fabulous day! I am so excited, because this is the final update on my food drive! I created a binder to help people run food drives in the future. I created this for people to continue helping people in the future when I am not here to do it again. I think I handled issues pretty well, and I’m proud of how almost-smoothly it went. I think it went well because so many people donated, and because everyone was so helpful and enthusiastic. I know I challenged myself enough because of how hard it was to get everything arranged, and how I had difficulties with almost everything. I didn’t think that it would be so hard to make videos, or to inform everyone of the full plan. I’m not sure what I could’ve done differently, but it was hard. If I had time to change something, it would’ve been the final volunteer call, where I would’ve gotten people’s grades as well as room numbers. When I was counting the final number of items, I got two different numbers, so I found the average, putting us at approximately 518 items! Great job everybody! I will release another video announcing the winners soon!!

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