[Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School] What if some Holy Innocents’ students could skip a morning meeting and a P.E. class and package 10,152 meals for hungry children?
That’s what four classes of third-graders and one eighth-grade class did Jan. 27 in Atlanta when they bagged and sealed meals of rice, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables, and vitamin power for families in in some of the world’s most vulnerable developing countries.
Students who would have been lifting weights with teacher Dan Healy or attending morning meetings at the Lower School were placed at stations in the Parish Hall to fill plastic bags with foodstuffs, and then weigh them, seal them, label them with expiration dates, and finally box them to be loaded onto the Stop Hunger Now truck.
“This is our faith in action,” said Lower School Chaplain Timothy Seamans, watching faculty and students fill the bags that held six meals each. “It’s a reflection of our Episcopal identity and calling to let our faith shine through our actions and service.”
Students gathered in the Parish Hall at 8:30 a.m.to get some instructions and inspiration from Michael Ashley, Atlanta program manager for Stop Hunger Now. After donning hairnets and plastic gloves, students tackled their assembly line tasks to the upbeat American Authors song “Best Day of My life.”
“Why are we doing this?” Ashley asked the students, faculty and staff assembled.
“If we make food for everyone in the world, no one has to have the issue of hunger,” answered third-grader David Artigue.
“Yes,” said Ashley, “you are going to get your hands busy today actually doing something about this problem of hunger.”
Students were undaunted by hearing Ashley say that some 800 million people in the world wake up every day not knowing what they will have to eat. Instead, students focused on what Holy Innocents’ could do to help.
“This will stop a lot of children from being hungry,” said determined third-grader Anna Kate O’Kelley.
And eighth-grader Tara Varzi agreed: “Taking some time out of our day to do this will make a difference in people’s lives. This is great.”
The meals packed at Holy Innocents’ could end up in one of a multitude of countries where Stop Hunger Now operates. But no matter where the meals go, whether abroad or at home, students can be assured they are making a difference in the world, said Ashley.
“We feel that hunger is a problem that everybody can get behind.”
The project was inspired and mainly organized by Global Service Teacher Sherry Sawicki.
“We were very excited about both the opportunity to help feed people in need, and the opportunity to work with ‘big Bears,’” Sawicki said. (Holy Innocents’ is the home of the Golden Bears.)
And Head Chaplain Shan Overton agreed that combining third- and eighth-graders was beneficial to both groups of students.
“This is an opportunity for the older students to show leadership and get to know some of the younger students,” said Overton. “There is something about getting to know someone working side by side to help other people.”
Holy Innocents’ is the largest Episcopal parish day school in the country.