When April comes, May graduations and the end of the school year are not far behind. For many children, the end of the school year means the end of their food source and two life-sustaining meals per day. It is difficult to imagine that 1 in 5 American children faces food insecurity on weekends away from school, and as the summer stretches out before them with no idea on when and where their next meal is coming from.
Some might say that one person cannot make much of a difference, but I think they can. At my church, we collect specific items each month for the Allegheny Valley Association of Churches Food Bank. Located in a northern suburb of Pittsburgh, 25 miles from the city, while driving through the town, a person would never guess that the local school district has so many low income kids that free breakfast and lunch are provided for all students in the district. I graduated from that same district in 1970, when the steel mills were flourishing and everyone's dad had a job. The area looks nothing like it used to look. Stores in town have closed, and the Plaza - a hub of my youth - is a shell of its former self. Big anchor stores have filed for bankruptcy, and the small "mom and pop" stores vanished along with the prosperous economy.
What can one person or a group of caring persons do? My church pastor, The Rev. Phillip Beck, is so dedicated to stamping out hunger, that he and many of the church and community members created, planted, and regularly to care for the Tarentum Friendship Garden, a garden whose bounty is for all people. Additionally, the group has set up a little food pantry, where folks can give and take as they need. You can read about it here: http://triblive.com/local/valleynewsdispatch/13572815-74/take-what-you-need-leave-what-you-can-which-can-be-in
Groups like Blessings in a Backpack also help to feed families. Check them out at https://www.blessingsinabackpack.org/ If you are so inclined, many local churches and groups are working to eradicate hunger, and they always need volunteers. I believe that everyone can give a little to help those in need. In some cases, people do not even know that others in their own community are going to bed hungry! Although I taught at a fairly wealthy school district for 35 of my 37 years, lots of kids came to school hungry, because they did not want others to know they were in need.
As an individual citizen, or as a group, you can help. Find a food bank and volunteer to pick up, organize, or hand out the food, or donate regularly to the food bank. Ask your local government about available land, and start your own community garden. You will find lots of like-minded volunteers if you create a Facebook page to get others involved.(Here is the link to the Tarentum Facebook page, if you need a guideline: https://www.facebook.com/TarentumFriendshipGarden ) Donate to Blessings in a Backpack or other similar venues. Do you belong to a church? My church has "quarter Sunday" on the second Sunday of the month. The children collect quarters in shiny silver buckets during the singing of the second hymn, and the proceeds go to the local food bank our church supports. Our goal is $100 per month, and we usually meet that goal..
One thing I know from being a teacher for 37 years is this: kids can't learn in school if they are hungry. If we all do a little, a great amount of hunger can be alleviated in our own communities! I hope you will be inspired to help feed the hungry.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
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Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school. if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom. www.Fieldtripzoom.com GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit http://www.theauthorszone.com/submissions/
Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom. Check them out! http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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