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HCS sixth graders reach out to feed hungry neighbors

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 3/23/23

Hamilton Central School sixth grade teacher Monica Chamberlain’s brand-new Project-Based Learning classes were designed to inspire the students to perform community outreach.

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HCS sixth graders reach out to feed hungry neighbors


HAMILTON — Hamilton Central School sixth grade teacher Monica Chamberlain’s brand-new Project-Based Learning classes were designed to inspire the students to perform community outreach — and now they have just completed a project that will help feed hungry neighbors.

“These are new classes that I started this year to get sixth graders out of study hall, away from their screens and allow them a chance to work within our community on meaningful projects that help others,” she said.

Chamberlain said her PBL students recently organized a High Needs Food Drive for the local food cupboard. Students made phone calls for donations, organized drop off times, spoke to professionals in their fields and worked with Hamilton Food Cupboard director Suzanne Collins to set up delivery of the items.

“We decided to do a food drive because we had spent a few months on food insecurities — the idea that people struggle with having food and how not everyone has access to fresh and healthy food,” Chamberlain said. “We talked about how we could help our community and from there the food drive was born.”

They started by reaching out to Collins to ask what the food cupboard needed and decided to collect items that are frequently requested and needed there but were rarely available.

The 27 students raised $750 in monetary donations to purchase milk from the nearby Collins Farm and Creamery, who will deliver the fresh milk weekly. Students also made a large purchase of fresh butter from the local Kriemhild Creamery. Additional funds went to buying half and half, heavy cream, cheese and fresh produce. The students also secured “a huge donation” from Chobani of 40 flats of yogurt with 12 yogurts in each and 20 cases of drinkable yogurt.

Many Hamilton Central School members also brought in items.

After three weeks of work, they gathered 15 packs of butter, 125 half gallons of milk, 12 dozen eggs, six pounds of carrots, five full cloves of garlic, 25 pounds of apples, two huge bushels of tomatoes, 20 pounds of potatoes, eight loaves of bread and other items. They made their delivery to the food cupboard March 16.

Sixth grader Ryan Houck said it was important to help out the local food cupboard and bring them some of the high-need items since they are frequently requested and can be hard to get.

“I got to work with my classmates and it felt good donating to people that need items,” Houck said. “I’m actually helping people out.”

“It was important because we could help people around our community that need those high-need items,” classmate Andrew LaFrance agreed. “It is not just the canned items; they need other stuff too.”

Fellow sixth grader Natalie Keating said she liked knowing they helped people in their own community.

“It was really cool to be a part of such a good cause,” Keating said. “I think that it was important because we were helping people. It really made me think how fortunate I am that I am able to go home every day and eat a good dinner, because some people don’t get that.”

Chamberlain offered her thanks to Curtis Lumber Company, the Hamilton FFA and Colgate University for their donations, and Fuel Up to Play 60 - a youth wellness program where students, teachers and parents work together to build healthier communities - for inspiring them to make the outreach.

It was their first time doing a donation of this magnitude, Chamberlain said, but now they are looking for possible grants to keep the project going in the future.

She added that the outreach also had a big impact on my students.

“This was a big learning moment for them, to see that there are people within our community who need a little extra help,” she explained. “We discussed how it’s important to always help out whenever you can. We discussed that not only are we helping the food cupboard and the people who need it but we are also helping to support our local business and farmers. Students also worked on many skills like sending appropriate emails, making phone calls to businesses and arranging schedules for deliveries.”


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