“The generosity and the kind-heartedness of these kids overwhelmed me because they were shopping for everybody else first.”
Remedium Life Science, in partnership with the Chattooga Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Helping Hands Ending Hunger, recently gave students at City Park Elementary School the opportunity to "shop like it's Christmas."
With a truckload of donated goods, the organization sought out school staff, counselors, social workers and community organizations serving families in northwest Georgia to give them the opportunity to shop for free.
City Park students were selected to participate in this event because of the school's ongoing Helping Hands Ending Hunger program. Helping Hands Ending Hunger is a program that empowers students to save uneaten food from school cafeterias and donate it to be redistributed outside of school. City Park Elementary School implemented this program in August 2019. Since then, they have collected over 17,000 lbs of food to help alleviate childhood hunger.
Alecia Halman, a City Park teacher and the leader of the school's Helping Hands program, said the field trip was the result of months of planning and the generosity of various businesses. As one of the first field trips since the pandemic began, the day was highly-anticipated by students and teachers alike.
According to Halman, they were only able to bring around 25 students to the event. She said they selected fifth-grade students who are the weekly recipients of food from the Helping Hands Ending Hunger program.
"We had 25 fifth-graders that participated, and they were allowed to pick one gift for each person in their family and two things for themselves," Halman said. "It made it even more exciting and special because we were getting to take a field trip when that hasn't been happening. We were very fortunate and blessed to be able to participate in this."
Halman said Emily Jones, the City Park School Counselor, worked hard to identify families in need of additional help, ensuring the experience was both equitable and special for students.
In addition to the students, various City Park faculty and staff were allowed to shop for classroom items including instruments, workout equipment, costumes, kitchen supplies and tech equipment.
"All of the teachers there could get things for school that they could use for their classrooms and students," Halman said. "The sky was the limit. There was such a wide variety of things."
According to Remedium Life Science of Georgia, "Cindy Rivers-McGraw, President of the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and Carla Harward, CEO of Helping Hands Ending Hunger, have spent the last two months broadening efforts to maximize the impact of this delivery."
Halman believes this experience had a significant impact on the lives of the students involved and on the future of several of the school's extracurricular programs.
"It was an amazing opportunity to watch these kids take it all in," Halman said. "The generosity and the kind-heartedness of these kids overwhelmed me because they were shopping for everybody else first."
"This event is generating a lot of excitement in the community," said Carla Harward, CEO of Helping Hands Ending Hunger. "The variety of goods, and of course, the toys, will have an amazing impact on children and families who are struggling, especially now. Hope takes many shapes and thanks to Remedium, it comes with much needed basic goods for families' day-to-day lives."
If you are interested in implementing Helping Hands Ending Hunger at your school, visit their website at www.helpinghandsendinghunger.org, go to the "Schools" tab and click "Become a Chapter."