A Birthday Food Drive

Well, friends, it is that time of year.  The point in the year in which the Superheroes of Kindness celebrate their birthday, and one of those times in the year the city of Missoula really sees that no one is ever too small to make a difference in their community.  The Missoula Superheroes of Kindness celebrated their second birthday the only way they know how, by rocking the annual school food drive.  The food drive was the first act of kindness that the Superheroes took on, with only seven children doning capes (although there were 19 children delivering food).  This fine celebration saw 50 children, ranging in ages from 3-5. doning capes and walking seven wagons of food to their local food bank.  And trust me, we could have used more wagons as they were very full and very heavy to pull!

The food drive started two weeks ago.  The oldest and some of the youngest children in the school made signs saying, ‘Food Drive’, to mark the boxes that were going to wait to be filled and to put on tables and in a display to help children and parents see what we were doing.  I wish very much I had a picture of one of these signs.  I will have to bop into the school tomorrow to take a picture of one as so much hard work and care went into making these fantastic signs.  Once the signs were made, boxes were disbursed throughout the school to collect donations.

Last spring the Superheroes of Kindness were the recipients of a donation from a fan of the Superheroes.  Our friend, Jolene, won a drawing in which she was given a debit card to donate to a cause of her choosing, a Pay it Forward even Washington Corporation was engaging its employees in.  Jolene’s name was drawn, and she chose the Superheroes of Kindness to ‘pay it back’ to.  This donation has helped us do a few good deeds.  But this time around, it helped us truly help the children see the possibilities presented when giving to someone.  Many of the children at school were able to participate in a field trip to the neighborhood grocery store.  The Orange Street Food Farm has gotten to know us, and as children piled through the grocery store over a course of a few different days, the employees greeted the children with a smile.  Teachers talked to the children about intentional giving; taking a moment to think about why we are giving food and how we want to give things we love and want to share with others.  The children were given a ticket rarely given to a young child- free reign in a grocery store!  The children were very excited to think about foods they want to share with others, and foods that would keep healthy eating in mind.  One child was set on lasagna.  Yep, lasagna.  We gathered what materials we could.  Each child had a reason for choosing the food they did.  And no child asked about the food at the end of the day, wondering if it was theirs to take home.  They were ready to share!

The children followed their own example from last year, and asked their neighbors for help.  One of the most special things that has come from the Superhero program has been both children and adults using each other as models, as well as using each other to inspire the other and work together.  Children decorated a note and/or grocery bags.  The note asked neighbors to help again this year by leaving food out on a designated date.  The goal was not just to help the Superheroes food drive, but to work as a neighborhood to support the Food Drive which is itself one of our neighbors.  More children hit the streets this year, and the neighbors responded.  Tears were brought to my eyes as I watched one neighbor walk his overflowing, heavy bag out to the children’s wagon.

Many children also participated with their parents choosing to bring food from their cupboards or to choose food together at their own grocery shopping adventure.  Parents helped keep their child’s important role by letting them help put the food from the box/bag they brought in to the school into their classroom’s box.  Some classes sorted food.  Some classes talked about what kinds of food we were gathering.  Others tracked if the food was canned or other.  Children were not just looking at a collection of food, but working to understand what the food meant.

On December 18th came the day of the delivery.  It was a couple days after our official birthday, but hey, parties often fall on different days :).  Seven wagons were filled with food, I mean at their max capacity.  Luckily we had two extra wagons arrive that morning!  First thing in the morning, all of the children in the school caped up.  We are talking about 50 children and a dozen adults!  Each group was responsible for a wagon, and for sharing turns in pulling the wagon.  Not an easy feat.  The entire group walked the two and a half blocks, then down the ally, to the back door of the Food Bank.  A former MCS parent opened the garage, and helped us begin unloading.  Each child was in charge of emptying the wagon they brought to the Food Bank.  They had to be so very careful when putting the food in the collection box.  We are not the tallest of donators, and we had to work very hard not to throw the food into the box but carefully drop it, at least until the pile grew enough for us to start placing it in.  Groups took turns, waited patiently before and after, and the pile continued to grow.

When all was said and done, we had collected 600 pounds of food!  Now, this is no easy feat for anyone.  But to give it some perspective, our first year we collected about 360 pounds, last year about 500 pounds.  These young Superheroes of Kindness not only beat their previous collections, but engaged the community and their own parents while doing so!  This year we also had a guest visitor, Flat Isabella.  She came all the way from Illinois to participate in her first Superhero Food Drive, and she doned a smile along with her cape the whole way.  She is definitely going to have many stories to share when she returns home!

The Superheroes are very thankful to find their home in their neighborhood.  To be able to be part of their community, to make a difference, and to find support in their neighbors, well, who could ask for more!  It has been a very good two years, and we expect to have a fantastic upcoming year!  Thank you for your continued support!

Love,
The Superheroes of Kindness

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