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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Eli's artwork arrived with this note: "I hope you're happy!" Knowing that someone donated in your name, Eli, has definitely made that donation all the sweeter. Thank you for supporting Heifer International!
My Aunt made a donation in my name as a Christmas present. She knows I like to draw, so thought I should enter the contest to be featured on next year's card! It's so important to help people feed themselves in the long term. Thank you for having a wonderful vision! - Elicia H.
"We excitedly share the amount of a 'Gift Ark' from our 'Joyful Noise' collection! Our congregation supports us as we learn to be God's servants by our participation in the church service with the collection of their coins once a month. We use this offering as an on-going service project to help those in need. Thank you for accepting our gift to support your mission! The children of Glossbrenner United Methodist Church"
For Christmas, Audra's grandparents donated a hive of bees in her honor. When Audra sent Heifer International her drawing, she included the note that her grandparents had written to her. A portion of their sweet note reads, "This is from us to you and you to them. Now that family is lucky, too." To Audra and her grandparents: Your generous, giving spirits mean so much to everyone at Heifer but, most importantly, they mean everything to the recipients of your donation. Together, we have power over poverty.
"The young ladies in my 4th and 5th grade Sunday School class raised this money as a Fall project at Charity UMC. We did a modified Read to Feed program using the book Once There Was and Was Not. The girls hosted a lasagna dinner on November 12th and distributed Arks to the adult Sunday school classes. The girls were very enthusiastic about the project and got the church behind them. They did presentations on Sunday morning and to the adult classes. Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place."
"Hello, This was drawn by my 10-year old daughter, Sarah. We've 'received' the Heifer gift for many years from my best friend, Andrew. This is the first year that Sarah truly understands the benevolence of what Heifer International is all about. Thank you! David S."
Many thanks to Kairi, one of Heifer International's young supporters, for the beautiful artwork!
About mid-December Heifer International received a generous donation from New Freedom in Christ Church, located in South Dakota. Along with their donation, they included the featured photo and the following letter. We hope you find it as inspiring as we did!
What does Caitlin see when she pictures a world without hunger? A happily roaming cow. We fully agree with your vision, Caitlin! Thank you for sharing your artwork with everyone at Heifer International and all of our supporters.
This kid-friendly honor card artwork was submitted by Franchesca, a 2nd grade support of Heifer International's mission. As a result of her family's generous donation of three goats, Franchesca wanted us to know that this is what she envisions is a world without hunger--a leaping, happy horse. Thank you for sharing your drawing with Heifer International, Franchesca!
After several months, the 4th - 6th grade Franklin Christian Church Sunday School class reached their fundraising goal! Along with their donation, they sent Heifer International the featured letters thanking Heifer for the work we do. We so impressed by your dedication, Franklin Christian Church, so we thank you for the hard work and dedication to Heifer's mission!
We received Garet's artwork submission with the following statement: "I donated because it was a nice thing to help someone who needs it." A simple and sweet quote that sums up Heifer International's mission in the purest form. Thank you for submitting your artwork, Garet!
When Heifer International received Nate's letter detailing his fundraising experience, we knew we had to share it with our community of donors.
Patrich, a 6th grade student, believes that a world without hunger could be similar to this scene. We at Heifer International think it would be awesome if everyone on the planet was able to indulge in a cookie. Thank you for sharing your artistic talents with us, Patrich!
Michael Henry, a 5th grade supporter of Heifer International, drew this fantastic depiction of what Heifer gifts mean to him. We, too, believe that a world without hunger would look similar to this scene. Anyone fighting hunger is a superhero in Heifer's eyes!
It’s always exciting for Heifer International when we learn about the creative ways our donors are raising funds for our mission. When we caught wind of the innovative fundraising IgnitionCo was pursuing, we had to learn more. Matt Blaisdell, one of a team of three alongside Seth Anthony and Julie Moretti, generously volunteered his time to answer a few questions about their pursuits.
My sons had given a flock of chicks to Heifer International on behalf of their grandmother because she would tell them stories about how she raised chicks on the farm she grew up on in NW Iowa. It brought a huge smile to her face to know that her stories impacted the boys and she was honored by the thoughtful gift. This Christmas the boys have again decided giving through Heifer is a good idea. This time they are giving on behalf of their grandpa. He helped them save a duckling that had fallen into our window well. They named it Oscar and fed it bugs until we could secure a home for it. Now they are donating a flock of ducks and are excited to share this gift with their Grandpa Bob. I appreciate how Heifer helps teach my children not only the value of animals, but how great giving to others feels. Thank you!
Brooke, an 8th grade homeschool student, was recently assigned a community service project with her Civics class. About 4 years ago her family began raising bee colonies, so she decided to take this idea further and fundraise for bees through Heifer International!
When most people think of a child's Christmas wishlist, they envision lists of toys and games and clothing. While Allyson may have written those items on her Christmas wishlist, she included a unique and awesome request: that an animal be sent to a needy family in Africa. When a close family friend saw this request on her list, they immediately thought of Heifer International.
Our stamping group made Heifer International our project for fund raising this year through the First United Methodist Church of Loomis, CA. We decided that we would like to buy a cow for Heifer. However, the goal of raising $500 was larger than we had done in the past. We worked diligently and made enough packets of handmade Christmas cards and, along with selling individual cards as well, were able to raise the necessary funds! We are very proud to be able to bring happiness and support to a needy family who will benefit from your wonderful organization. Thank you for this opportunity to be of help.
This adorable drawing was submitted by Colin, a young Heifer supporter in New Jersey. We want to thank you for taking the time to share your view of Heifer International with us, Colin!
Thuy received the gift of geese and they have been a perfect match on her small farm. The training she received provided essential knowledge in their care.
The chickens her grandmother received made it possible for her to care for Gladys and her 11 cousins who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
Emilia is a member of the impoverished Roma community and the chickens her family received are empowering them to overcome the severe discrimination her people face.
Devota has used money from milk sales to send her children to school and diversify her farm by investing in ducks.