NORWAY — During a class before Thanksgiving, fifth grade teacher Kyleigh Roberts asked her students how they might give back to others in a way that made them feel a sense of kindness.

Four of them, Regan Merrill, Corley Sunday, Kyalo Mulandi and Jakob Szente, all suggested a food drive, an idea that Roberts and their classmates loved. They immediately outlined a plan that included the entire school’s participation to bring in items such as canned and boxed food, baby food and other non-perishables.

“We put boxes out around the school,” Merrill explained as the students filled a table at the Christ Episcopal Church’s food pantry with bags and bags holding everything they collected. “And we put up posters. We had it announced over our intercom and anyone could bring in any canned or packaged foods. Almost every day we would check them.”

Kyleigh Roberts’ fifth grade class at Guy E. Rowe School in Norway held a building-wide food drive, collecting non-perishables that they delivered to the Christ Episcopal Church in Norway last Friday. Pictured, from left: Kyalo Mulandi, Roberts, Katarina Sherbinski, Regan Merrill, Izabellah Cole, Corley Sunday, Juliana Anderson, Jakob Szente, Bella Shelton and Drew Pederson. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

“The very first day it was bursting. The next day it wasn’t as much but it was still a surprising amount considering how early it was,” Sunday added. “We could tell that people were really excited about it.”

Mulandi said that he brought in peanut butter, jelly, olives, cake mix and oatmeal.

The students said this was the first time they had ever organized and run a big project like a food drive. They all agreed that they would like to do it again.


“I think it showed them that they have the power and ability to make a difference,” Roberts said. “It was really exciting to watch them. They are amazing.”

Merrill said that other ways they’ve worked together to support their peers is to post kindness pictures around the school. They also did a project where they wrote letters to their moms and dads to thank them for all they do as parents.

“We wanted to make sure they feel appreciated,” she said.

“I think that all of us played a part in the food drive,” said Sunday. “We all donated food, we all put up the posters. It was a really great thing to do as a class and for our school.

“It felt good to be a part of something that was bigger. It was us as a class, and also each person in the class.”

“It was a short period of time” to collect the food, Szente said. “We had to keep organizing the bins so we could fit more food in them.”


“It took about three days to organize it,” Mulandi said. “We came up with the idea and had to organize it before Thanksgiving. It got a little crazy. After we got back from Thanksgiving vacation we just started collecting.”

One thing the students said they were all thankful for is being able to attend school in person.

“It’s not the best,” Sunday declared. “We love in person so much better!”

“We have a really awesome classroom community,” Roberts said of her students. “We do a lot of reflection, a lot of talking about how we can help each other socially and emotionally.”

“We have about 20 volunteers in the pantry,” said Rosalie Ketchum, the church pantry’s coordinator. “This pantry has been open 40 years. I’ve been the treasurer since 2005.

“We receive food from Hannaford, bakery goods on Fridays. We get vegetables on Mondays and Fridays. Once a month, on the third Friday, we give out prepared meals made by Foothills Foodworks. There a lot of things that happen here. We also provide fiscal services to three other food pantries that are run by local schools.”

The Christ Episcopal Church’s food pantry is open 9 to 11 a.m. on Mondays and Fridays and on Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. A little more flexible than some pantries, recipients are able to tell volunteers what items they are in need of, which helps to make food go further and be better utilized.

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