February 19, 2011 in Washington Voices

Lessons in humanity

Ness students help distribute food to needy
By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Jose Mendez, center, gestures to Ness Elementary School fifth-grade classmates as he helps distribute bulk foods provided by Second Harvest Feb. 11 at Millwood Presbyterian Church, the site of a monthly mobile food bank.
(Full-size photo)

Students at Ness Elementary School in the West Valley School District are learning early lessons about community service and giving back.

Last week, the fifth-grade classrooms of Tammi McCollum and Jenny Owen spent an hour at Millwood Presbyterian Church, 3223 N. Marguerite Road, helping Second Harvest Food Bank distribute food from its mobile food bank.

“You’re like the bag person at the grocery store,” Pastor Craig Goodwin told the students about their duties.

McCollum said the school has been learning about giving back to the community. Reading units in the classrooms have discussed making sacrifices and helping others.

“We’ve been involved in a food drive every year,” McCollum said.

They have also learned about needs most people may not think of when they are donating to food banks.

“We’re kind of gathering toiletries. We’re doing it for the homeless and stuff. A lot of people don’t think about that,” said fifth-grader Cole Rosaia.

The toiletries will go to Spokane Valley Partners.

Goodwin said the mobile food bank comes to the church every second Friday of the month. Millwood Presbyterian’s congregation and leadership collect money to help offset the costs.

Goodwin said that when students come to the church to volunteer they are eager and conscientious.

“They really do a good job,” he said.

Dawn Wieber, director of member services at Second Harvest, said the food bank helps distribute food for those in need to other organizations throughout the area. The mobile food bank is a little different.

“The mobile food bank program allows us to distribute directly to our clients,” Wieber said.

The truck arrives at 250 locations a year and anyone can come and get food – they don’t have to provide proof of income. Throughout the year, Second Harvest distributes about 1.6 million pounds of food through the mobile food bank.

The students snapped on latex gloves and put about 15 potatoes into each bag. One student asked if everyone knew they could make balloons out of their gloves.

But they all knew the lesson they were receiving while they were working.

“Not everybody’s as lucky as we are,” said Cierra Black, 11.

Saray Peralta, 10, said she was enjoying herself because the activity helped her to be thankful for what she has.

Eryn Cummins, 10, said she was having fun at the mobile food bank and knew why she was there to help.

“Most people don’t have everything so we should give,” Cummins said.

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