Sunderland second-graders put together food drive for Senior Center

  • Sunderland Elementary School second-grader Jacoby Houle had the idea to collect hygiene products and nonperishable food for seniors. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • State Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, Sharyn Paciorek of South County TRIAD and Sunderland Police Officer Brenda Tozloski talk to Sunderland Elementary School students who collected hygiene products and nonperishable food for seniors. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sunderland Elementary School students help load Sharyn Paciorek’s vehicle with hygiene products and nonperishable food for seniors on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sharyn Paciorek of South County TRIAD accepts collected hygiene products and non-perishables for seniors collected by students at Sunderland Elementary School. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/17/2021 8:37:19 AM

SUNDERLAND — In the holiday spirit of giving, Sunderland Elementary School second-graders got together Wednesday to donate food to South County TRIAD to help seniors in need.

Students came together to collect food, hygiene products and books to give Sharyn Paciorek, president of South County TRIAD, and Sunderland Police Officer Brenda Tozloski under the school’s pavilion. State Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, also was on hand and spoke to the children. The items will be given to seniors at the South County Senior Center next week during its holiday social.

“You’re going to spread a lot of kindness with these bags,” Paciorek told the students. “I can’t thank you enough.”

The idea for the food drive was started by second-grader Jacoby Houle, who brought the idea to his teacher, Lee Worthley.

“I just thought of it,” Jacoby said. He added, “it was good.”

Blais told the students they are all “leaders in our community.”

“You showed us,” she said, “how important it is to give back to our neighbors.”

Fellow classmate Ezekiel Pattison said he’s never done a food drive before but he would love to do one again because he loved the feeling of helping people.

“I felt good,” Ezekiel said.

Worthley said Jacoby brought the idea up to her and she let him share it with the rest of the class.

“He presented his idea to the class and everyone was on board right away,” Worthley said. “He’s one of the most empathetic 7-year-olds I’ve ever met.”

Worthley said Jacoby’s idea lined up with what she teaches the children in November and thought it was a good way to tie those lessons into something that connects the students to the community.

“We do this little mini unit on food insecurity in November,” Worthley said. “We teach them about food pantries and how even second-graders can impact their community in positive ways.”

Worthley’s class has participated in larger food drives and charity events in the past, such as Monte’s March, but this one was all its own.

“It was a great, well-rounded way for the kids to take a moment and stop and realize the impact they can have on their community,” Worthley said. “This was a way smaller scale than (Monte’s March), but it just validates their idea when someone like Sharyn Paciorek and Natalie Blais stops their day to visit second grade.”

Worthley said things like this food drive are all about supplementing their education by teaching them how to be a “good human” and an active citizen in their community. She said this shows the kids a “concrete” example of them making an impact.

“One great connection for kids is it feels really good. … When you listen to your ideas, they can grow into bigger things,” Worthley said. “They totally get that it’s an awesome feeling to be a part of that.”


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