Children prepare sandwiches for needy

January 24, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Sixth-graders at Sykesville Middle School reached out to "people we don't know" when they converted their classroom into a peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwich assembly line to help the homeless.

"If I have food and somebody else doesn't, I have to help," said Gabrielle Reynolds, one of 70 students who collected food and bagged lunches for the homeless last week. "If a community has homeless people without food, the community has to help out. We should do this over and over again."

While studying global hunger, the 11- and 12-year-old children discovered that the problem is as close to them as the local homeless shelter, which can serve only two meals a day.

The children filled the gap with nearly 100 nonperishable lunches, which they donated to a Westminster shelter.

"There are a lot of hungry people and we have extra," said Kathryn Snyder. "We have to give to the hungry."

The children reconfigured their desks into assembly lines to speed production of brown bag lunches, each with a sandwich, snack, dessert and drink box.

Growing children "get hungry even with three meals a day," said Colleen Moody. "I get snacks because I don't like to have an empty stomach."

The young workers took their places along the lines and assembled meals with speed and efficiency.

"It's chaotic but fun," said Margie Ader, their teacher and line supervisor. "We need another jelly person for line two."

She had her choice of several eager volunteers.

Ms. Ader chose the "pbj" entree, a favorite with most children and "easiest to fix with the most kids involved."

The line leaders left no slice uncovered as they smeared globs of creamy peanut butter evenly to the crusts.

The bread went next to the jelly spreader and then, to a sandwich bagger.

The main course moved down the line, where cookies, popcorn and a drink carton accompanied it to a brown bag.

The finished product filled several large plastic bags -- nearly too heavy for Suzanne Kalwa to lift. Distribution can be a problem, she said.

"A lot of people are hungry and they shouldn't be," she said. "I guess there is not enough food and people just don't share. When you help somebody, it makes you feel good."

Justin Fahey said he felt sure everyone would like the fixings.

"I love peanut butter and jelly, and I think they will like it, too," he said.

"Especially if they don't have any lunch at all."

The popular fare also has nutritional value, Laura Sue Cavey said.

"We are giving a nutritious lunch," she said. "Peanut butter goes with the meat group and the jelly has strawberries from the fruit group."

No empty calories made their way into the lunches.

"These cookies we are sending have only 4 grams of fat," Leah Burke said.

Kathryn said her classmates have little first-hand experience of hunger.

"You should see our lunches in the cafeteria," she said. "We don't always think about people who don't have food and we are not really hungry. If we really were, we wouldn't throw so much stuff away."

The children might toss away parts of their lunches, but nobody wants to skip the noon meal completely, said Stacy Copenhaver.

"If soup kitchens can't always serve three meals, we have to help," she said.

Holly Brown said she and her friends often share their lunches.

"Now, we are just being that friend to people we don't know," she said.

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