For the past eight years, fifth-graders from Glen Worden Elementary School have served breakfast one Saturday morning at the Schenectady City Mission.
According to district social worker Terry Rodrigues, the act itself is an example of how people of any age can help their community, but it's the preparation that really leaves a lasting impression.
If you start raising awareness and compassion at this age level, it will hopefully turn into a lifelong sense of
giving back and taking care of one another, said Rodrigues.
Rodrigues said the students prepare for the event for weeks, including putting together flower arrangements, practicing songs to perform, making placemats and learning about homelessness.
Also as part of the preparation, a representative from the mission comes in to talk with the students about who lives at the facility, who comes in for meals and why it is so important to support places that provide shelter to those in need. Rodrigues said the stereotype of a homeless person as someone who is "dirty" or living out of a shopping cart couldn't be more off the mark. She said the students learned it could happen to anyone and there needs to be a place where people can turn to.
"Hard times do not discriminate, and it's important that we teach our kids now that we are really all connected to each other," said Rodrigues.
The students met Thursday, March 5, at the mission to bake muffins to serve that Saturday. Kate Toombs said her daughter, Eva, and classmates were excited to be there, and any initial nerves were overcome by a sense of focus about what they were doing and who it was for.
Toombs said the children broke out into a song of "The Muffin Man," and even passed around a muffin with a broken top to taste their "work."