Students showcase Kloefkorn kindness with large donation to food bank

Members of the Kloefkorn Cub Council smile with Food Bank of Lincoln representative John Mabry on Dec. 22. Kloefkorn Elementary School students raised $5,179.89 for the food bank. Mabry said the organization would be able to buy more than 10,000 meals for area families with the donation.

Kloefkorn Elementary School students knew they were bringing joy to the world each time a new coin fell in their collection jars in December.
They ensured their holiday happiness would spread across the area with a large donation to the Food Bank of Lincoln.
The cubs presented a gift of $5,179.89 to the charitable organization at a schoolwide assembly Dec. 22. They soared past their initial goal of $1,000 with a full week of Kloefkorn kindness. They reached into their piggy banks, searched through couches and asked family members to contribute to the worthy cause.
Fifth-grade student Sadie said everyone was happy to make the season brighter for people. She is a member of the Kloefkorn Cub Council, which planned and led the coin drive at school.
“I thought it would be close to $1,000, but I didn’t expect to get over $5,000,” Sadie said with a smile. “I was really shocked.”
Food Bank of Lincoln Chief Relationship Officer John Mabry said Kloefkorn students had set a positive example for the entire city. He said their generosity would make a big difference. Food Bank of Lincoln officials estimate more than 48,000 people in Southeast Nebraska currently face food insecurity.
“For the kids to come up with this kind of support is incredible,” Mabry said. “We’re going to be able to turn this amount into over 10,000 meals, so it’s a big deal.”
Fourth-grade teacher Maya Arrigo and fifth-grade teacher Grace Halstead are co-sponsors of Kloefkorn Cub Council this year. The leadership group is for students in fourth and fifth grades who are interested in community service. They meet each Monday to plan projects that will help others both in the school and city.
Council members wanted to provide Lincoln families with more access to food through a coin drive. They asked fellow students to bring pennies on Monday, nickels on Tuesday, dimes on Wednesday, quarters on Thursday and dollar bills on Friday.
Halstead said council members felt they could reach $1,000 if every Kloefkorn student gave at least one coin to the drive each day. They provided each classroom with a collection jar and hoped for the best. They watched with amazement as coins began spilling into jars on Monday morning.
“Honestly, we felt that was a pretty big ask to set a goal of $1,000, so when we saw kids coming down with baggies and buckets of coins on those days, it was pretty heartwarming and inspirational,” Halstead said.
“It was amazing to see how dedicated our students and their families were to donating,” Arrigo said.
Fifth-grade teacher Kristen Riley had a front-row seat to the charitable actions. She was impressed with the way students approached the project.
“The fifth-grade students were incredibly excited about the coin drive,” Riley said. “As the oldest students in the building, they really took the leadership role to heart. Every day they were so excited to hear the new total and reminded each other to check at home and bring coins in so we could reach our $1,000 goal.
“Kids would cheer one another on when they saw another classmate dropping coins or bills into our classroom collection container. It really was such a week of joy by giving to others.”
Sadie and other Kloefkorn Cub Council members met after the drive and tallied up the grand total. Arrigo said they exchanged high fives and wide smiles as the numbers continued to rise.
“Our council actually helped us count all the money, and as we were counting, we were like, ‘Oh yes, $100, another $100,’” Arrigo said. “It was just awesome to see their reactions as well as ours. We were not expecting that much money, so it was great.”
“It felt really good,” Sadie said. “Just knowing that it would help the community a lot and it would help a lot of people.”
Riley and Halstead said the project taught students many positive lessons.
“I believe it is incredibly important for students to learn about generosity at a young age,” Riley said. “Kindness, compassion and helpfulness are topics we revisit every week in our class circles. Many of our students have learned and experienced that in helping someone else, they actually feel better about themselves and realize that they add so much value to the world.”
“I think that it’s really important to start in elementary school and build that foundation of helping out others where you can and when you can,” Halstead said. “It’s important to create that environment here so they can carry on those traditions throughout not only their schooling, but their adult lives too.”
Kloefkorn’s theme for the 2023-24 school year is based on the book “The Story of You” by Lisa Ann Scott. Riley said one of her favorite pages includes this phrase: “When you choose to be kind, when you decide to share, when you reach out a hand, when you make sure it’s fair, you’re writing the story of you.”
Riley felt those lines came to life with the Kloefkorn kindness she saw during the coin drive.
“I think our students did a great job of this with the coin drive,” Riley said. “I’m so proud of each and every one of them!”
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Published: January 10, 2024, Updated: January 10, 2024