Pioneer students Read to Feed
August 27, 2008 · Updated 4:41 PM
ARLINGTON Pioneer Elementary generated more than $1,500 for hungry families and villages in other countries, and they did it by reading.
The students of continuous progress teachers Deb Hubenthal, Michelle Hadley and Judy Fay, and second-grade teachers Molly Ahrens, Elizabeth Rosson and Colleen Turk, all took part in Heifer Internationals Read to Feed program. Students received donations of money from parents and teachers for numbers of books read, and then passed the money on to pay for the purchase of farm animals which serve as renewable resources for the families and villages that receive them.
The idea is that once this animal goes to a family or a village, that Heifer International also trains to care for it, it will change their way of life, Hubenthal said. Whether it produces milk, wool, fertilizer or draft power, its products can be used to fund medication, housing and schooling. Its the premise of giving a person a fish, versus giving him a fishing pole.
According to Hubenthal, approximately 125 children participated and read roughly 1,500 books during the campaign, which only lasted the month of February. They generated an average of a dollar for every book read.
Theyre doing the work, because theyre reading the books, Hubenthal said.
Its so rare that children can feel like theyre making a change, Turk said.
The children made plenty of change from Read to Feed, though. The total haul included more than 45 pounds in loose change, including nearly 5,000 pennies and an estimated $35 in nickels, as well as an assortment of dimes and quarters.
Reed to Feed represented a diversity in not only coins, but also curriculum subjects covered. Hubenthal cited math, geography, world cultures, science writing and rhetoric as among the skills they honed during the exercise.
They had to keep count of the donations theyd received and learned about where we were sending these animals, Hubenthal said. We studied those areas and their people, many of whom dont live the same lifestyle as us. We also found out which animals would benefit which ecosystems, and the students had to write essays and make proposals for how they should spend the money since it was a finite amount.
Ahrens and Rossons students paid for one flock of ducks and geese, one flock of chicks, one goat, one hive of bees, one batch of tree seedlings, one share of a llama and one share of a pig. Turks students paid for two flocks of chickens, one batch of tree seedlings, one share of a water buffalo, one share of a pig and one share of rabbits.
It wasnt hard to persuade them to get excited about this, Hubenthal said. It was real money, making a real difference in real peoples lives. They got passionate and felt grown-up because theyd made a difference.