During the 2015-16 school year Ms. Newman’s Life Skills class developed a partnership with Unity Presbyterian Church Food Pantry in Greentree. More specifically with Sally and Rich Petro who are amazing volunteers who run the Food Pantry. Once a month the students, Ms. Newman and all of the assistant teachers travel to the church basement. Sally and Rich provide very structured tasks like bundling bath tissue and cleaning products, packaging specialty snacks and gift items for holiday distribution, assembling toiletry kits, preparing food bags, and coloring holiday greetings for pantry clients. On February 4th, representatives of the class and their families presented 35 fleece lap blankets that the students made with fabric purchased with Thrivent Action Team seed money. Blankets are being given to the Food Pantry for distribution to elderly and ill family members, and to members of the Unity Youth, who will deliver the blankets to Ronald McDonald House on March 4, when they go to cook breakfast for the families staying there.
The class's partnership with Thrivent Financial has also provided Aero gardens that grow in the Life Skills classroom. Students use the gardens to learn about how plants grow and how they can grow vegetables, fruits and herbs to give back to the community. Last school year the class grew a variety of herbs, flowers and a lot of tomatoes.
Overall, the teachers and assistants have seen an increase in a sense of self confidence in the students, a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of pride and identity. These tasks give the students a way to connect to others in the community and a sense of purpose. Most importantly the entire group has fun and in the end they all gain a sense of fulfillment.
View photos of students shapping for blanket material on Flickr >>