China Grove students deliver for those in need

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 11, 2009

By Kathy Chaffin
If you were in China Grove Friday morning, you might have noticed groups of children walking from the elementary school to Main Street Mission and back again.
They were on a mission, braving near-freezing temperatures to deliver 2,010 items of canned food and other nonperishables to be distributed to needy families during the holiday season. Like well-trained assembly line workers, the students entered the back door of the ministry headquarters, handed their donations to the volunteers and headed out the front door.
Occasionally, a student would experience some difficulty retrieving a can stuffed into a pocket or sleeve, but otherwise, they filed through quickly. A couple of classrooms delivered their donations in red wagons, while members of other classrooms carried bookbags filled with cans.
Though they were willing to talk about the food drive for this story, students had to answer questions quickly or hold up the line. Ty Hubbard, a kindergarten student at China Grove Elementary, carried a can of sliced peaches and a can of green beans to the mission.
“I like green beans,” he said, but made no comment on the peaches.
Anne Corriher, director of Main Street Mission, greeted students, thanking them for their donations to the ministry and wishing them a Merry Christmas while five volunteers ó Pete Kluttz, Rebecca Morton, Dee and Andy Stefanick and Marianne Wilson ó counted and sorted the cans and other nonperishables.
Many students brought cans of green beans, pinto beans and corn. “It is so nice to have those kind of things,” Corriher said.
First-grader Jeremiah Alexander, who brought a can of carrots and a can of green beans, said it made him feel good to help others. His classmate, Makayla Gray, who brought a can of peas and a can of chicken noodle soup, agreed.
Matthew Epley, who brought a can of spaghetti and a can of corn, said, “I like to give to others.”
They and other students in Judy Rochelle’s first-grade class donated 90 cans to Main Street Mission, which serves people in need in the southern end of the county.
Assistant Teacher Linda Scarborough said, “We do this every year. They get all pumped up.”
Epley added, “We get interactive with it.”
Students in Maria Jo White’s More at Four class were especially excited about the food drive. “I like to share,” said Connor Yon, who donated a grocery bag of canned food and two Cokes.
Madalon Blackwell said she enjoyed the food drive because it felt good to give to people who don’t have things.
Kendell Fischer said the class brought their donations in a red wagon.
First-grader Madison Hamel, who brought two cans of green beans, said it’s important for everyone to share. “If you have two things and one person has none,” she said, “you can share.”
Her classmate, Lindsey Rice, said she likes to give “because I think it’s good for the earth. I like to help people.”
Madison Berry brought two cans of salmon “because I like to share food with others.”
Haley Hargraves donated two cans of food and a jacket she had outgrown to keep another child warm in the cold.
Nathaneal Groll of the same first-grade class brought 11 cans of food “because I don’t want everyone in the world to starve. I’d like people in the world to eat and not have to suffer from hunger or anything.”
Groll said he would like to donate to Joel Osteen Ministries “Feed the Children” program. When he grows up and becomes a police officer, Groll said he plans to volunteer during his time off helping people in need.
Fourth-grader Natalie Mayhew, who brought cans of cabbage, said it makes her happy to help others.
Her classmate, Zack Starnes, said the school’s donations can help kids and parents going through hard times. “It feels good to give,” he said.
Ethan Rhodes, Irving Flores and Faith Morris said they also enjoyed giving to Main Street Mission. Jonathon Benson said Christmas is the perfect time to do it “because you’re giving a gift to them.”
They’re all in Trisha Oakley’s fourth-grade class, which collected 121 cans for the holiday food drive.
China Grove Elementary Principal Jenny Kennerly said the food drive was already a tradition when she started working at the school three years ago. “We decided to keep doing it because it’s such a great asset to the community,” she said, “and it teaches the kids that Christmas and the holidays are more than just what ‘I get and have.’
“They need to know that not everybody has what they have.”
When students arrived at Main Street Mission, Kennerly said they could see for themselves that the food shelves were nearly empty. “They could see tables starting to fill up with their canned stuff to go on the shelves,” she said. “We made a difference, and that’s the bottom line.
“That’s what we want the kids to see is that even if they only brought a couple of cans, we all brought a couple of cans and collectively, we made a difference. And each individual was part of that collective difference.”
Corriher said she loves to see the faces of the China Grove Elementary students when they deliver their donations every year. “They’re so sweet,” she said, “and I think they enjoy the walk-through. They get to come see firsthand so they know where their food goes and how it’s used and know that they’ve done some good.”
Teachers at China Grove Elementary use the Main Street Mission food drive as a classroom project to promote awareness of needs in the community.
Corriher said all of the schools in the southern end of the county hold food drives for Main Street Mission. “The community is so good to us,” she said. “It’s just overwhelming.”
This year, she said West Rowan High School is even bringing food students collected to the ministry.
Main Street Mission has struggled to meet the community’s needs this year, Corriher said.
“We’ve had so many new people that are in transition and in need,” she said. “We have given out tons of food, and the donations this year haven’t been quite as good last year.
“Last year, we had huge donations.”
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.