It’s mid-May and the only thing on the minds of students and school staff is the fast approaching summer break–or so you might think. But that’s not the case for the school family at Seaton Elementary.
On April 24, 2012 Lisa Loachridge, fifth grade teacher and Myra Bray took nine students from the Talented and Gifted (TAG) Program and Problem Solver Program out for a unique experience. They went to Goodwill Industries in Lapeer. Their goal was to learn about the purpose of Goodwill Industries, how it operates and how it serves the local community and the programs operated by Goodwill. Tereasa Zygila, Manager of the Lapeer Goodwill Store, gave each of the students a folder with information on the purpose and operation of Goodwill. Then she gave the group a tour which included following items from the moment they came into the donation area until they were on the shelves for customers to purchase.
As a consequence of learning the about the purpose and the operation of Goodwill, the group also learned something about themselves. They learned that giving to others is a great way to feel good about you.
What an invaluable lesson. And a fun day was had by all. But wait! That’s not the end of the story but the beginning. After returning to Seaton Elementary the students and staff decided to continue in the spirit of what they learned that day and presented a school-wide challenge.
The students from each class and the staff brought in donations of clothing, books, house wares, toys and knick knacks that were counted each day for a period of three weeks. At the end of that time, May 11, the winner, the class that brought in the most items, was announced. Now you might ask yourself with everything else going on and summer fast approaching, how seriously would the Seaton Elementary family take this challenge? You might be surprised.
Over the three weeks of the contest 3,600 items were donated by students, staff and let’s not forget parents. Yes, 3,600 items. It took 10 trips in cars fully loaded to get all the donations turned in to Goodwill by the end of the contest. And who won? Everyone – the students, their parents and grandparents, the school staff, the employees at Goodwill and the residents of the Lapeer community. This was a true labor of love by all who participated.
Per Tereasa Zygila, “It was a rewarding experience all around. The kids got to see how others can use things that might otherwise end up in a landfill. There is very little trash. What doesn’t get used here gets recycled. There is a use for everything. The kids also got to see how people can buy nice things at a reasonable price. The students loved it. I hope next fall they want to do this again.” The Lapeer Goodwill store puts out 4,500 items of clothing a week and 1,000 items a day. “It really benefits the community.” said Ms. Zygila.
Per Mrs. Loachridge the best thing about the contest was that the T.A.G. students had accountability for organizing and operating the contest. Also, the building staff took part which added an extra fun element for everyone.
Traci Chouinard, Principal of Seaton Elementary, commented, “The students and staff made this a fun experience for everyone. Mrs. Loachridge and the T.A.G. students were excellent leaders. They collected, counted, and hauled every day. It is great to see the dedication to a good cause.”
But when you ask the students who participated in collecting and counting the items think? Sam, Ben and Judson, students in Ms. Morris’ class were happy to share their thoughts. Per Sam, “I think the school did a very, very good job. The classes weren’t fighting over who was in the lead. They all helped.” According to Ben, “The students didn’t do it to win a prize. They did it to help. I never thought Goodwill needed that much stuff. They needed everything.” And Judson shared, “I felt very proud. I felt proud for all the other kids,”
Thank you to all of the Seaton Elementary family for showing that you are never too young, or too old, to care about others. And the greatest gift you can give to yourself is the gift of giving to others.