Ahhhh…elementary school student council. My colleague and I have done it a variety of ways over the years, but in an effort to provide meaningful, hands-on experiences for each student, we have opted to try to find organizations that will allow kids to actually do something rather than just donate something to put in a collection box at school. This is not an easy thing to find. We have located a couple: Share your Soles and Feed My Starving Children (FMSC).
Today was our trip to FMSC with 73 third and forth graders and 22 of their parents. This was an undertaking. First, we needed a 1:3 adult/child ratio. We managed to get the adults needed, but just barely. We figured out the bus transportation, all the permission slips and arrangements for pick-up and day care, and medication, and rosters, and emergency information…we were finally all set. And then the emails for chaperone cancellations started coming in…ten in all within the 24 hours prior to departure.
In the midst of the chaos, I emailed my colleague and suggested that maybe we should hand over the student council reigns to someone else next year. We both agreed that we were exhausted and not up for the loud bus ride. I somehow ended up in the 3rd row from the back, and for anyone who remembers riding on a school bus, the back of the bus is reserved for the extra rambunctious, chanting, hat-throwing crowd.
So we got there and everyone got situated, and we started working. My colleague and I were working in the back making and taping boxes. At one point, we stopped and looked out into the area where they were packing the food. It was amazing. Every single kid was engaged and doing his or her job…not just doing it, but immersed it in. The music was turned up and a few people were singing…they were cooperating and making it happen. Parents were smiling, and it was an amazing scene.
In the end, we worked together to do something meaningful for people we would never meet, and we left with a feeling of being part of something bigger…the human race. We felt connected to people we never thought about before. We, people who never have to go without, could now connect with these families that went hungry. We were one in the same…the part that received food to eat and the part that benefited from their graciousness in allowing us to walk with them for that short time as fellow human beings.
On the bus ride home, my colleague and I discussed how we were going to add an additional grade level next year.
Image from: FMSC Meals Helping Japan Disaster Survivors pitchengine.com