Eden is one of our fifth grade students. She’s compassionate and tender – it was Eden who spearheaded a service project to collect, assemble, and deliver bags of supplies to the homeless. Back in December, she talked to me about the fact that sometimes it’s easy to come to school and focus, and sometimes it’s much more difficult because of things that are happening at home. I told her I understood completely – my aunt had just been diagnosed with brain cancer, and it had been extremely difficult for me to focus at school because I was worried. A few days later, as I continued to work on accreditation, I asked Leah and Eden (the two students who initiated our service projects) to write a reflection of their experience to potentially use as documentation. In Eden’s reflection, she wrote something along the lines of: “Our last project went so well, that I maybe just maybe will do another one. And since Miss Stivender told me about her aunt who has cancer, I think I want to do something to help cancer patients.”
When we returned from Christmas break, Eden came to me and shared that she had emailed Ronald McDonald House over the break but they don’t allow volunteers under age 13. I told her that Mary Claire used to work at Ronald McDonald House and may have an idea about how we could help them. Mary Claire told her about the pop tabs project that they do – collecting and recycling pop tabs. It sounded like an incredible idea for our families because it did not require any extra financial commitment, just an intentionality on their part. We told students that the winning class would receive a soda party, and the collecting began.
About halfway through the collecting, Eden came to me with a handwritten letter to Coca-Cola asking them to donate sodas for our party. I contacted Linley Hanson to see if Victor (who works for Coca-Cola) would be willing to receive an email from Eden asking for 20 donated sodas. Victor was thrilled to support, and he delivered 90 sodas to the school, asking to shake Eden’s hand and thank her personally for making the community better. Each time I have visited my aunt in the hospital for her treatments, she has asked about the progress of the project. When I shared that sodas had been donated, she asked if she could buy chips for the winning class to enjoy at their party. Unprompted, Eden wrote her a beautiful thank-you note that included encouragement about her cancer.
We have completed our pop tab collecting, and – with the help of the 2nd graders who counted and graphed the results – we collected 46,857 pop tabs in two months! It has been a beautiful illustration to me of the agency of our students, the authentic formation of a variety of partnerships, and the way that we genuinely support one another at Cornerstone.
Just wanted to share!
-Dr. Nita Carr