It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, the leaves turning bright colors and the crisp fall air giving me hope for a few more precious days of fall. After a long morning of meetings, I was hopeful as I walked into Meadow Lake Elementary School. A stone’s throw away from our office, I had been invited to the local school to represent The Food Group at an event they were hosting centered around Gratitude.
This whole event was made possible by a generous donation from Liberty Diversified International (LDI), a local business that has generously donated their time and resources to The Food Group for many years. Celebrating their 100-year anniversary, LDI gifted each Meadow Lake Elementary class with $25 as part of their Gratitude Movement. The donations allowed students to reflect on “people that help other people” in their community, and donate that money to a local organization as a way to say ‘thank you’ for all these organizations do.
Walk, Don’t Run
As I was signing into the office, two kids ran in – both were out of breath and red cheeked. They had been chosen by their teacher to lead guests to the assembly, and their excitement was contagious! They chattered away as they led me to the gym, where the Gratitude assembly was being held. We didn’t run, mind you – we just speed walked, which my young guides told me breathlessly was within the hallway rules.
Once in the gym, I sat in a folded chair as the room began to fill up, class by class, with children absolutely buzzing with excitement. They tried their best to “sit still on their pockets,” as the school principal asked them to, but when you’re in elementary school and it’s after lunch that is just a really difficult request.
They did their best, staying mostly in their lines, and laughed as their classmates faces flashed across the projected video screen. Once voices quieted, you could hear that the students on the video were speaking, sharing with us what they were most thankful for. Over and over again, I heard expressions of gratitude from these students for their parents, teachers, house, friends, family, and the chance to learn at school. I couldn’t stop smiling, and if I’m honest there may have been a tear or two.
Learning About Gratitude
When all the classes were seated and ready to begin, the principal walked the students through the meaning of Gratitude and ways that we can show gratitude to one another. The students took turns raising their hands and sharing ideas about what it looks like to show gratitude. They also shared how that makes us feel when we say thank you, and how it might make the other person feel – the one who is receiving that message of gratitude. I could tell that this message resonated with the students. It struck me how simple giving really is, but how adults have a way of over-complicating it sometimes.
As I sat through the first half of the assembly, I watched these kids learn about the importance of saying thank you and showing gratitude. It’s a simple but powerful concept, and for these students it seemed that they understood it completely. Not only were they thinking about how to say thank you to their family and friends, they were truly overjoyed that they had the opportunity to thank us, the ten or so nonprofit organizations (like The Food Group) that had been invited to the assembly as guests.
Meadow Lake has partnered with LDI to present gratitude checks to our local organizations. Way to help us spread GRATITUDE to our local companies
Posted by Meadow Lake Elementary School on Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Video credit: Meadow Lake Elementary
A Gift From Ms. Osborne’s 2nd Grade Class
Thanks to LDI, each class at Meadow Lake Elementary was able to choose a nonprofit organization to receive a $25 donation. I was invited to this assembly to receive a donation from Ms. Osborne’s second grade class. When it was their turn, one of the students read off why they chose The Food Group for their donation, while the other student shyly handed me the check.
The ceremony was simple and profound – from the cheers of the students I could tell they were so excited to give that donation. They weren’t thinking about keeping that money for themselves – in this moment, they were connected to the true joy of giving.
This is something that we can all experience when we donate to a cause we care about. This is what we tap into when we are able to help someone who needs it, and feel like we made a true difference in the lives of others. From Ms. Osborne’s second grade class, I was reminded of three very important ideas about giving:
Unfortunately, adults sometimes complicate the idea of giving. For one reason or another, we can lose touch with the core of generosity. Giving is simply a way to say thank you and to help further the causes we care about. It’s an extension of ourselves – our passions, our dreams, our hope for our community.
Ms. Osborne’s students thought about the causes they cared about. They talked about it with their classmates. They talked with their teacher. Ultimately, they chose The Food Group because, as they put it, they want to be sure everyone has enough good food to eat. They showed me the true spirit of giving – and as a fundraiser, it really struck a chord with me.
It’s incredible that saying thank you and showing gratitude, once explained, is simple and natural to a child. I am so grateful for the experience I had with Meadow Lake Elementary that day, and to LDI for creating this powerful learning opportunity for students. I can honestly say that my view on gratitude and generosity has been shaped by this experience. I am honored that these students chose The Food Group for their donation, and incredibly inspired by this next generation of givers.
May we all carry this lesson into the season of giving – and all year long.
This post was written by Amber Mayer, The Food Group’s Development & Marketing Associate. Questions? Contact Amber.