MINERAL POINT, Wis. - While most students at this time of the school year are closing out the school year by going on field trips, having picnic celebrations, and anxiously awaiting summer break, Second Graders at Mineral Point Elementary school have been spending their last days of school studying philanthropy and how they can make a difference in the world both globally and locally, all while improving their own reading skills.
Their story begins four weeks ago when they were studying nutrition and world hunger. Students were shocked to learn that 1 in 8 people will go to bed hungry each night. Then they learned about Heifer International-an organization that “provides livestock for struggling families who have few resources and need an ongoing source of income,” and how those “gifts help families lift themselves to self-reliance” (Heifer International). They continued to learn about Heifer’s cornerstone, “Passing on the gift,” and what it means to be a philanthropist-someone who gives their time, talent and/or treasure to help others. That’s when they decided to join Heifer International’s Read to Feed program. This program encourages students to read while raising money to provide resources and training to families in need all around the world.
Students launched their philanthropic service learning project by creating a video (http://animoto.com/play/JzForrbzBz6bUynLfx0JNQ) to share with their families and community about their new endeavor and to gain support. For every $1.00 donated the entire 2nd grade would read 10 minutes. Within only a few days they had raised $200 (2,000 minutes of reading). Then Cummins Emission Solutions of Mineral Point heard about their project and wanted to support their efforts to help families around the world and increase personal literacy skills. They generously donated $400.00 (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1509924259231198) and yet the students were up to the challenge of now reading over 6,000 minutes…and they wanted to read more! (http://animoto.com/play/H7K5h0e4IzcrLRSsZTbIVg ) The Class of 2024 also wanted to make a difference locally, so they decided to use their talent for reading and use their time to visit the residents at the Mineral Point Care Center throughout the next few weeks.
“Students spent a few mornings talking with special 'Grandfriends' and reading to them,” explained Marcia Roberts, second grade teacher. “This gave them a compelling reason to practice their basic reading and fluency skills.”
Through the Read to Feed program, students also learned about keeping promises and being accountable for their actions. With over 6,000 minutes to read, students had to get creative and find different ways and times to read.
“If we skip recesses we can read during that time,” suggested one student. Another’s solution was to, “read ALL day.”
“One goal of this project was to really get the kids excited about reading. At this age and time of year some students begin to get ‘bored’ with reading,” said Penny Wiegel, second grade teacher. “One way we kept the extra reading exciting was to have special family members and community members be ‘Mystery Readers’ and read a favorite story aloud.”
Students were so energized that they even decided to read extra at home so that they could meet their challenge. “We also wanted to encourage the kids to become life-long readers. We wanted them to understand that reading is an important life-skill, not just something you do when you open a book,” explained Kimberly Diefenbach, second grade teacher. “One way we encouraged this was to explore the town of Mineral Point through a walking field trip and read all the signs and menus we could find.”
During one of these trips, two local businesses, Mitchell’s Hardware Store and High Street Sweets, heard about the students’ project and success thus far. They wanted to surprise the students and congratulate them so High Street Sweets opened their doors at a special time and Mitchell’s Hardware Store bought candy for all the students (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1510271015863189) At the end of the two-week collection drive, they raised $1,000 (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1510501939173430 ) and decided to buy one water buffalo, one biogas stove, one flock of chicks, a pig, a goat, an irrigation pump, and send a girl to school through Heifer International.
Mineral Point second graders have truly learned that they have the power to make a difference in their world and within their community. By simply using their time and talents, and by working together, they can surpass their goals and beat any challenges put in front of them, even reading 10,000 minutes and raising $1,000. Local and global community service is not just an aspiration in Mineral Point, rather it has become a reality for these young philanthropists.
(The photo is one that we took to thank the community for their support of our project and for our corporate sponsor.)
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The poor are not responsible for their poverty and misery. Most of them struggle in conditions that are subhuman, dangerous, full of disease, hunger and despair.Pierre Ferrari
Congratulations to Crystal Marufo whose story of quitting smoking to raise an Ark for Heifer appeared in the Holiday 2015 issue of the World Ark! The Christmas Eve offering at her church, the Goshen City Church of the Brethren, helped her reach her goal. In one year’s time, Crystal and the friends she has inspired have raised the money for an Ark. Thanks, Crystal, for your dedication and perseverance! And thanks to all who contributed after reading the article. You have been an inspiration to Crystal, as well.
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This year for Christmas I offered my almost 7-year old granddaughter three options for her Christmas gift. 1) She could have a big present for herself. 2) She could have a smaller gift and send an animal or group of animals to a boy or girl in another country who doesn’t have as many things as we do. 3) She could just send animals and not get a gift for herself. Click on the title of this story to read more!
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Throughout the month of December, the SoulShine day school and after school programs learned about Heifer International and the different animals and opportunities that can be gifted to families all over the world. Ages 2-12 looked at the magazines, materials, and lesson plans about farming and raising livestock. On December 17 we held a market and raised over $100 for Heifer International by selling goods we made together. The children made all the products including vegan cinnamon buns, dream pillows, necklaces, candles, and more. The SoulShine school tripled our donation amount to $320 and we bought 4 baskets of hope and 1 goat from Heifer International. During this month of learning with Heifer International, one of my favorite activities was having our 2-year old students identify animals that live in the wild and animals that live on the farm. It was fun to show them pictures of farm animals using Heifer International images and then play sounds of the animals. The 2-year old students were asked to identify the sounds of ducks, chickens, cows, pigs, and more. We all giggled and learned that we can share these gifts with families in need. Thank you Heifer International. Submitted by Andrea Zoppo
Submitted by Addison | Age 8 1/2 | Colorado
Received in the beginning of December 2015, the below letter was sent into Heifer International from Pam Nemeth, proud mother of Jake Nemeth, co-founder of The Giving Garden and recently inducted Eagle Scout. There was no way we at Heifer were going to allow Jake's hard work and dedication to go unacknowledged. We'd like to allow Pam's words to tell you more about Jake's Eagle Project, so without further ado... (Click the title of this story to read more!)
Dear Heifer International, Enclosed are multiple checks for Heifer International. Thank you for allowing us to extend a helping hand. The kids in Science Hill Friends Sunday School class, grades four through six, wanted to make a difference in the world, if only a small one. This year, instead of exchanging gifts with each other, we chose to raise money for Heifer International. The class wanted to raise enough money to purchase a cow for a family in need. They all agreed theyw ould not receive a gift from their teacher and vise versa and their project would be funded with that money. They made pottery plates and filled them with homemade cookies and designed a tee shirt ("Because I gave up one Christmas gift a family is able to eat for a month!"). Pottery plates/cookies and tee shirts were sold for $10 each. One hundred percent of the proceeds were donated to Heifer International. Our church, Science Hill Friends agreed to match whatever we raised. We raised $560.00, therefore there are check enclosed totaling $1,120.00. We appreciate this opportunity to learn, share and be grateful. Thank you! Friends, Haven, Hgnat, Kara, Kaley, Annabelle, Silas, Mackenzie & Tammy Submitted by Tammy G.
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In 1969 Ralph Barnes, from Chatham, IL, a farmer and coordinator for Heifer International, called Austin Hulcher to see if he would take a load of cattle/heifers, to Miami, FL. Since the 1,400-mile trip would be non-stop, Austin called his good friend, Bud King, to help drive the truck. This trip meant loading up the heifers into a double decker trailer. The 47 heifers were chosen from prize winners at county fairs and the Illinois State Fair. Each of the heifers weighed between 600-800 pounds and were among prize winning stock. The cowboys were told the heifers would help to upgrade the stock in Bolivia, South America, where the cattle were pretty scrawny... Click the title of this story to read more!
Submitted by Michelle | Age 8 | Colorado