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Ontario English Catholic Teachers

Empathy

One Class Assignment, 2,000 Bags of Food

When Ty MacLellan visited a food bank with his grandmother, he was moved by what he saw. During a speech to his Grade 4 class, Ty challenged his classmates to bring in one food donation a month. Before long, the idea took off and the whole community at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Elementary School in Oakville got involved.

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When I first went with my grandma to the food bank in Wasaga where she volunteers, I remember feeling shocked – and sad. It was hard to see people in need and to realize that some families wake up every morning not knowing whether they’ll have enough food to eat. I continued to visit the food bank with my grandma, and the feelings stayed with me.

When my teacher gave us an assignment to write a speech about the poor and the vulnerable, I was inspired by my grandma and the time I had spent with her at the food bank. I decided to write my speech on my experience there. At the end of my speech, I challenged each of my classmates to bring in one non-perishable food item on the first Friday of each month. I committed to deliver the donations to our local food bank (and my mom generously donated her chauffeur services).

My class took up the challenge with enthusiasm so I decided to go bigger – I challenged all three Grade Four classes in my school to participate. Soon it spread and the entire school was participating! It went so well that it just became a part of the school.

Now the project has been going on for a few years and it’s been incredible. We’ve collected over 2,000 bags of food, which is about $50,000 worth. Today, the school continues to collect dozens of bags of food each month and helps provide 350 families a week’s worth of food every month.

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