East Belfast Elementary fifth-graders donate to Food Cupboard
"'Tis the Season to be Giving, Fa-la-la-la- la, la-la-la-la!" This is the heading atop the page of a flyer announcing the East Belfast Elementary School's traditional fund drive for the Greater Bay Area Ministerium Food Cupboard. The annual event, headed by Lynn Hoenig's fifth-grade class, invites all the students to bring donations for the food cupboard.
"Instead of the children swapping gifts with classmates, the families of East Belfast School are encouraged to donate the would-be gift money — say $3 per child, more if desired — to the Food Cupboard," said Hoenig.
The students also collect non-perishable foods to donate. It all begins with a visit by clergy members of the Greater Bay Area Ministerium (GBAM) early in December. This year, Rev. Joel Krueger of the First Church in Belfast, UCC and Rev. Alan Shumway of the First Baptist Church of Belfast, helped the students in the kick-off of their fund raiser with the Maine Hunger Pain Game, a game that shows how easy it can be for families in Maine to find themselves in a situation of need where they might require the help of a place like the Food Cupboard.
But the big event came two weeks later, as the fifth graders planned and organized their annual Holiday Bazaar on Thursday, Dec. 19. Students are invited to do some holiday shopping for small donated items with nickels, dimes and quarters. This year, with the proceeds from the Bazaar and donations from students and teachers, the school gave a total of $760 to the GBAM Food Cupboard! In addition to this, they gathered four boxes of non-perishable food items, plus a 50 pound sack of Maine-grown potatoes given by one of the teachers.
As part of the fund raising event, the fifth graders each do a pushup or a jumping-jack for every dollar and food item that is donated.
Hoenig shared the following story:
"One day we got a donation of $50 from the second graders who have been collecting change since September. They had talked about it and decided that they wanted to give the change that had been collected up to that point to the Food Cupboard. So Ms. Page, their teacher took it to the coin counter and it came to $49.98. A man was standing there and chipped in 2 cents to make $50. So when they gave us that, the fifth graders had their work cut out for them! Many of the other children in other grades would do the exercises with us to support our efforts."