What started as a and staff at has become a reality. Principal Alysson Keelen set a goal for her students to collect 4444 cans to give to the Howell Food Pantry and by Wednesday night they had brought in more than 6000 cans to donate to residents in need.
Now comes what Keelen and Lead Teacher Debbie Long will be the must fun and community involved part of the project. Assuming the weather cooperates the teachers will do their part of their principal's goal and camp outside the school on Friday night.
Starting at 7 p.m. on Friday parents and community members are invited to come to the school to work half hour shifts to help sort and organize thousands of cans that have been collected. That is also a chance for community members to bring more cans in hopes of reaching Keelen's dream of 10 thousand cans. "For the parents and the children to work together and accomplish something that is going to make a difference in the lives of others is huge," she said.
With the school year winding down Keelen said this has been a great way for the students and staff to come together with a common goal. "What's really nice is that we're ending it on such a positive note and really doing something that we've never done before."
The fact that the food pantry will benefit so much from their efforts makes the whole project that much better for the principal. "I think one of the things that I love about our school is that we teach children the academics but we want to teach them to think and to dream. I think we're accomplishing that with this project."
First grade teacher Linda Gonzalez's class brought in more than 1000 cans on their own which she said was her own personal goal. "We've talked about how not only is this a contest but also how important it is that we're really touching so many people's lives and helping people out that are less fortunate," she said.
Her students may be young but Gonzalez said they understand what they are doing. "We're helping out people who can't sometimes have food to eat on a daily basis," she said. "They're so excited about it."
From some of the youngest students to some of the oldest fourth grade teacher Alexis Mendoza said the contest has brought out a friendly rivalry in the building with one common goal. "It's amazing how it sparked such creativity not just in bringing in a can but also how they involved other people in the community," she said.
Not only did some of her students get together to design posters for the event, Mendoza said one student even made his house a drop off point for his neighbors to help out in the collection. "It really is just spreading like wildfire," she added.
As one of the teachers who is set to camp out Mendoza said she has done her best to prepare for what promises to be a unique opportunity. That includes welcoming her students back at night for the community service work. "The fact that they're going to be coming with their parents to do the community service aspect should certainly lighten up the load," she said of the sorting and organizing.
When Mendoza heard that camping would be part of the event if they reached their goal, she knew the question was not if they would be camping out but when. "She doesn't say things that don't in turn happen," she said. "It's a wonderful thing at this school because when we make goals and objectives academically and in any other aspect they come true."
The shifts to volunteer are scheduled to run until 9 p.m. and Keelen said any items that can be delivered would be very much appreciated. A full list of the items needed can be found here.