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Students provide soldiers care packages with ‘Project Gratitude’ PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 December 2017 13:20

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ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times



The holidays can be a bit of a tough time for those serving in the military away from their families, but the students at Meadowlark Elementary School recently completed a project to help. 

The students recently completed Project Gratitude, which was a coordinated effort to put together care packages for soldiers serving overseas. 

“We’ve recently been learning about heroes and leaders in most of the grades but especially in 1st grade and one of the sets of leaders we talked about was the military,” Meadowlark Elementary School 1st grade teacher Mary Stephenson said. “I have a former student who is in the military right now, he’s active military and deployed. So we got to talk about people I actually know in my classroom, and the students asked ‘How can we help them? What can we do?’ So we came up with the idea of Project Gratitude and opened it up to the whole school.” 

The project began at the beginning of November it was opened to every student and their parents at Meadowlark Elementary and lasted through Nov. 29 so there would be enough time to package up all the goodies for those care packages. Ultimately, the school collected enough items for 10 packages, Stephenson said, which will also include some nearly 200 letters and drawings divided among the boxes. 

“With our school and looking at the whole redesign, we’re really working to do more community outreach and find ways for students to make those real-world connections,” Stephenson said. “And being able to have someone I know be affected by it is a great thing for our students. Our principal fully supported the idea and wanted me to extend it to the whole school, and it was really neat to see the students as they brought things in and just seeing everyone chip in – I’m a 1st grade teacher but I had 5th grade students coming up to me and asking about it, which was really exciting. I think that was the biggest thing for me, seeing the whole school rally behind an idea and be so successful at it and then having all the students understand where it’s all going and why.”

Stephenson said she is very proud of how the project ended up. 

“I’m most proud of the involvement of the students and their families,” Stephenson said. “Also, seeing the impact it’s had on the students, knowing why they’re doing this and where it’s going, this is something that’s planting that seed for our students to be successful in life as far as learning to care for others. I would love to see it happen every year. I think it’s a great way for students to connect with what’s happening in the real world and it’s also a great way for them to learn about giving.”

The project is especially timely as the Christmas season is upon the area. 

“Originally, this was something I was going to do in my classroom, but then I talked to the principal about it and she said ‘That’s a great idea!’ and then she had the idea to open it up to the whole school because the more people we can help and the more people we can impact by doing stuff like this, it’s really going to help them in the future,” Stephenson said. “It was way better than I thought it would be for our first year. I’m really excited to get responses back from the soldiers mostly because we do know someone we’re sending it to, and if we get responses back, it makes it even better for the students.”

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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