Children hungry to help

Published 11:00 am Thursday, May 20, 2010

At first glance the gym looked more like a factory than part of the school Wednesday morning.

Children grades three through 12 at the United South Central school were busy packaging meal bags all day Wednesday that will be sent to help people in Haiti. As well as partnering with Mankato’s Kids Against Hunger, students and staff raised $9,134. That surpassed their goal of $8,000.

“We are pretty proud of such a huge accomplishment,” Principal Tracy Frank said.

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They hoped to complete 40,000 meals Wednesday that will be shipped to Haiti. A semitrailer full of food came to the school at 6:30 a.m. and was unloaded by high-schoolers who volunteered. The meals have chicken, specially made soy with extra protein, rice and vegetables. The bags of food have six servings and cost $1.38.

This is the first year USC has done a fundraiser with Kids Against Hunger. One fifth-grader raised $1,275 by sending letters to her family and friends asking for donations.

“The kids in Haiti are starving,” 10-year-old Lauren Wetzel said. “I think it’s a good thing to help with.”

All the kids in the school helped with other fundraisers. A popular one was “Hats for Haiti” every Friday from April 9 to May 14; kids could pay $1 to wear a hat on Fridays. Kim Gormley, a teacher at USC, had a group called Gormley’s Groovy Grasshoppers who encouraged students to help with the fundraising.

“We did presentations and talked about what was going on in Haiti and got them pumped up about fundraising,” Gormley said.

The group got students excited about fundraising and many kids went to area businesses to ask for donations. Gormley said students wanted to help after learning that just a dollar could feed four people.

Another student, Sidney Hargis, 12, had the idea to have a rummage sale and have all the proceeds go to the project.

“I like to sell stuff,” Hargis said. “I wanted to raise a lot of money.”

The garage sale raised $1,679 for the project. Hargis said his favorite part about the whole fundraiser was packaging the food. High-schoolers were helping fifth- and sixth-graders in the morning and then helping elementary children on Wednesday afternoon. The students were measuring out all the food components and making piles of meal bags at their stations.

“We’re just excited to be helping in a hands-on way,” Gormley said.