OXFORD — As she spends first grade being home-schooled, Liliana Tripp is getting a real-life education in social studies she is not likely to forget.

Liliana is in her third week of operating a food drive, with all donations going to Oxford’s Helping Hands Food Pantry. Too shy to speak on the record about her work, she authorized her parents to act as her representatives.

Liliana Tripp, 6, of Oxford celebrates food donations left at her drop box at 64 Rabbit Valley Road in Oxford. The items will be given to Helping Hands Food Pantry in Oxford. Supplied photo.

“Home schooling has been going pretty well,” her mother, Laura McCann Tripp, said. “We started Liliana in remote learning for the first two weeks and it just wasn’t working for us. She was in pre-K last year, but I’ve started printing worksheets and making a curriculum for first grade so we skipped over kindergarten.

“We do cooking, science and she goes to an art class in Auburn. We do social studies, which we call community day, and music, P.E. and library. And we of course work on English and math. For science, we started with learning about rocks and minerals and took a field trip to a mine and a gem place in West Paris.

“For social studies, we first studied voting and did our own mock election,” she said. “Liliana got to choose the ballot question, which was ‘should we read more books at night?’ We always read two books but now we read three books, because we all voted to read more books. And we took her to see how voting works and what it is like.”

From Liliana’s electoral education, the Tripps moved on to a new topic, learning about what volunteers do to help the community. Next the family will do a 5K to benefit Make a Match, which matches donors to patients with blood illnesses.


“One of the people at the Helping Hands Food Pantry, Karen Miller, is related to my husband Allen,” McCann Tripp said. “We originally asked if we could take Liliana to the food pantry to volunteer but she was too young. And they are restricting who can work there right now anyway.”

Liliana Tripp and her father, Allen, put up a sign for her food drive project at their home at 64 Rabbit Valley Road in Oxford. Supplied photo

But the pantry told them Liliana was welcome to donate food, which led to her food drive.

“Now we’re in this very large project,” Laura Tripp said. “As of today, we are at 189 items of nonperishable items. We started collecting at our house on Oct. 18, with a sign at the end of the driveway and I sent a letter to the editor (to the Sun Journal and Advertiser Democrat) letting people know about it. The very next day, some neighbors from the end of our street brought us a wagonload of things.

“On Oct. 23 we went door-to-door and handed out letters to let our neighbors know we were going to do pickups, starting today. But already people have dropped things in a utility tool box pretty much every day.”

Liliana checks the box a couple of times a day. She and her father set it up so donors would not have to worry about close contact or mask-wearing.

Liliana Tripp shows a donation and note mailed to her from a Sun Journal reader in Dixfield. Supplied photo

One person from Dixfield who read about Liliana’s project in the Sun Journal mailed her money. Another woman in West Paris sent a note explaining that while she didn’t get out toward the Tripp’s neighborhood she still wanted to help and invited them to stop in to pick up some food donations.

Lilian’s food drive will continue until Nov. 7.

“We want to leave enough time before Thanksgiving for the food pantry to go through and organize everything,” Allen Tripp said. “We will drop everything off next Friday.”

“We’ve got a good stash that we’re organizing, and to make it more of a lesson we’re making graphs to show what it all is,” Laura Tripp said. “We have really been enjoying our time with this school project. And boy, does she get joy from collecting the food people leave in her drop-off box!”

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