I am so going to miss this group of children.
This next post is sort of Part 2 of our field study to the Harvest Hope Food Bank a few weeks ago. It is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to parents about this powerful experience.
I've taken out the pictures of course, but imagine 22 third graders, walking around this huge facility, amazed by all of these grown ups, most of whom donate their time to feed hungry people. Words can barely describe the feeling...
"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say, "It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem. Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider these people my heroes." Fred Rogers
It was a little hectic going to Harvest Hope. We were counted, listed, tagged and signed in. The kids were patient with all this grownup stuff. We had our check in hand and hundreds of pounds of food in the bus. After we handed over the check ($1,240.01 - thank-you-very-much) they gave us the deluxe tour. We went through the warehouse with its high shelving, we walked through the area where the food was sorted and prepared for the clients in the waiting room, and we went inside the largest freezer I have ever seen. Our entire class walked in, along with the parents, siblings who accompanied us, as well as our tour guide and there was plenty of room to spare. Harvest Hope is a well-oiled organization of food service for those in need. How wonderful to live in a place where this system of helping exists, where if you fall on tough times - families do not need to starve, where volunteers devote thousands of hours every year to the unselfish service of others.
And we sang our songs. As our time there was running short, Tammy Huddle (who visited our classroom earlier this year) rounded up the administrators and volunteers and we sang "Tough Times" and "Metamorphosis", the two songs we composed together. It was lovely. They truly appreciated it. Of course the kids sang like a choir. We love an audience who listens hard. We were expected at the State Museum quite soon [we had two field studies in the same day] so I was going to say our goodbyes and hustle everybody out to the bus when one of our guides asked if we could sing "Tough Times" just one more time. When she asked if we could sing to the clients waiting for food, of course we had to. These were the very folks we wrote the song to. These were the people we had been learning about and feeling for.
I know that we have probably sung louder before, and certainly we have sung that song to a larger audience. At the teacher conference we sang to nearly 300 people. But singing for that small group of appreciative listeners was one of the most compelling moments of my teaching career (there I go again with the superlatives - but it's true!).
There were people with tears in their eyes and strangers who clapped me on the back and and God-Blessed me like they meant it. That moment will forever be etched in my mind - seeing our young ones, bravely singing their hearts out to a room of strangers; singing that song we composed together after much deep thought and many meaningful experiences; the song that was the distillation of books, guest speakers, videos, quotes, conversations; that song that came to represent all of the food we collected, all of that money that clunked into our "jug of generosity", all of the weighing and tallying and counting and boxing and carrying. I don't know if I will teach that song to other classes in the future. Because that song belongs to us. At that moment when we had the opportunity to sing to the people we were caring about from a distance, could never be created again. This is the last time I'll thank you for the support with this long term project. For buying the CDs, for shelling out the money for the field study, for having important conversations with your child about helping others in need- I am most grateful.
Thanks for reading and thanks for all that you do,
Tough Times - by Center For Inquiry 3rd Graders, 2014
You might see a woman out on the street Am
Her clothes are ragged, torn up shoes on her feet
She could be hungry – nothing much to eat Dm - Am
You ask yourself, “What can I do?” Fmaj7 E7
Life is easy for me and you Am – E7
Some people see others who are in great need
It could be fear, it could be greed
They turn away – sometimes even me
I have so much that I could give
To make a difference; help somebody else live
A wink, a thank you, a nod or a smile
Can make our giving so worthwhile
But that’s not why we give – oh no that’s not why
You can love somebody you’ve never met
That’s a decision you’ll never regret
We take life for granted F G
Things we have every day C /B Am /G
Plenty of food and water F G
Our very own place to stay C /B Am
We’ve got to care for others F G
Do the best we can C /B Am
Everyone sometimes can use a helping hand F G Amaj
True hunger is a feeling you may - never know
But there are many people who have nowhere to go
City or country, Black, White, young or old
Hungry and cold, no place to call home
Some have next to nothing, they feel all alone
People are hungry for many reasons
They may not have money for all their needs
Some have to choose, housing, food, medicine
Some lose a job, some get sick
So many expenses they have to pick