Lancaster second-graders embrace the practice of giving over receiving

Lancaster Elementary School students Nathan York and Justin Szelis (from left, front) Jessica Smith (center) and Katlin Angle (rear) deliver thier dontion to Love INC recently.
Lancaster Elementary School students Nathan York and Justin Szelis (from left, front) Jessica Smith (center) and Katlin Angle (rear) deliver thier dontion to Love INC recently. Photo by Jessica Williams.

The two Lancaster Elementary second grade classes have embraced the practice of giv-ing, rather than receiving, during the holidays this season.

Jennifer Redner and Linda Zahm asked their students and the students' parents if they could donate to Love, INC, instead of partaking in their usual Christmas gift exchange.

Zahm says the response from the kids was instant approval.

She explains that she and Redner then sent home a letter explaining the project and asking the parents to send in cash in the amount of $3, the amount usually set aside for the exchange The cash, they explained, would be used to buy food for the local charity. She says the parents' nod of approval was immediate too.

But what followed was unexpected for the two teachers.
Donations totaled from the 33 students was $183; $84 more than asked for. Zahm says that only a few envelopes had the minimum amount requested, with the majority of parents giving double or triple the original $3.

The teachers "were amazed and very touched by the generosity of our parents. Some students donated their own allowances or birthday money to the cause," Zahm says.

When the money was taken into the Owen's Supermarket South on Friday, Dec. 4, the students were met by store manager Richard Reed, who gave them an additional $40 gift card to spend - which was icing on the cake for the Lancaster group.

"The jaws of the students dropped open in complete surprise," Zahm recalls, after the store manager doubled his original donation of $20.

Bill Fetrow, director of Love, INC., told the students in advance what to shop for in terms of the charity's needs.

"Every student placed items in the shopping cart as the teachers kept track of the amount spent. They compared the cost per ounce or per unit to determine which brand to buy for the families in need. They wanted to get the most for their money. The students placed the purchased items on the checkout conveyor belt with joy," Zahm says.

After donating numerous sacks full of food, the classes took a quick tour of Love, INC.'s building and were told how they would help feed hungry people this holiday and how important it was.

Zahm also says Love was excited to have second grade students put others above themselves. Fetrow even made a trip out to Lancaster a few days before the shopping event to explain why some people might need help.

A quick field trip into town appears to have paid off.

"Students really saw the impact that they could make for the community," Zahm says.