It all began with Phyllis. Phyllis transferred to our building because her husband was named principal at the school she was working at. She joined our grade three team. She introduced us and our third grade students to one of her favorite charities, Heifer International. At Christmas instead of students exchanging gifts students put together bags of snacks to sell to students during the school day. One of the big decisions after collecting and counting the money students chose which animals to “purchase” to empower a community somewhere in the world. A flock of geese? Water buffalo? A camel? A cow? A goat? So many choices. After spearheading this project for a few years, Phyllis retired. Retired? Retired from teaching third grade but not from life. She became more involved in the many projects that she loved.
During the summer we all would get together at her house for a summer afternoon lunch and according to her husband, “cackled like a hen-house full of hens.” Our last summer lunch was the summer before last. She was the picture of health at that lunch. Phyllis who had never been in the hospital except for the birth of her children, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We lost her two months later a few days before Christmas. In memory of her we collected money from the staff for Heifer International. We wanted to continue her project with students. For the last two weeks students have been bagging animal crackers and trail mix to sell.
Today one of the first grade teachers shared that this project has made a big impact on her students. Suzy knew that several of her students would not be able to purchase the 50 cents bag of snacks so she thought of another idea. Her students are earning virtual coins. After earning a coin the child moves the virtual coin on the smart board. They then are grouped into nickels, dimes, and dollars. They have earned enough virtual coins to buy a flock of ducks! Tomorrow is celebration day! What warms my heart is that Suzy tells me that the children really understand the impact they will have on a community by their actions.
A book that we used to introduce this concept gives me goose bumps of joy, One Hen How One Small Loan Made A Big Difference. This story is based on actual poultry farmer. Small acts of kindness equals big impact. Phyllis would be proud.