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Editor's Note: To celebrate the Read to Feed spring match, a $50,000 matching gift challenge that will match every dollar raised by Read to Feed students and classrooms around the country, we're sharing a special series of Read to Feed stories from teachers and students. 

We’ve exceeded our second goal and set our eyes on the final goal of matching $100,000 in Read to Feed donations. We KNOW we can achieve great things when we work together. Students and teacher across the United States are proving it!

Students at Westside Elementary in River Falls, Wis., spent February learning, reading and collecting pledges as part of our first Read to Feed program. Character education is a district-wide goal, and Read to Feed fit perfectly into learning about what it means to be a global citizen. 

At the beginning of the month, we discussed several questions about the program. We defined what a heifer is, how a Heifer project works and where the money goes. Our entire school community learned the answers to the questions, along with details about Heifer International and how children can change the world through Read to Feed. 

Every classroom – from Kindergarten to 5th Grade – set a reading goal, which was totaled to create our overall school goal of 200,000 minutes. Students and teachers proved they were up for the challenge by reading during the day and at home to exceed the goal. We ended the month with a total of 261,597 minutes!

Westside Elementary School's principal read The Chicken and The Egg to students as part of the Read to Feed program.
Westside Elementary School's principal read The Chicken and The Egg to students as part of the Read to Feed program.

Beyond reading, our school community learned how Heifer helps people around the world, who they help and how they implement Passing on the Gift®. Our principal also visited each classroom to read stories of hope such as The Chicken and The Worm to connect Read to Feed to helping others build sustainable incomes. 

Students collected pledges from generous families and community members, and we were amazed that we raised $7,000! Everyone was excited to pick other animals, in addition to a heifer, with the pledges. The students learned about the animals and how they help lift families out of poverty. From fish fingerlings to goats, we were all proud to purchase multiple animals and gifts. 

The smiles and pride that exuded from each student and teacher was a testament to the learning that occurred during Read to Feed. Westside Elementary has shown how we are all global citizens, and we truly can change the world.

Amy Kraemer, School Counselor, Westside Elementary in River Falls School District

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