Wye River Upper School students have created a small food pantry to serve the needy. The project was created in response to a school initiative called the 12 Demonstrations of Learning, which involves a list of action-oriented projects that help students develop important 21st Century skills and values. Their specific objective was to “Identify a community need and demonstrate your role in addressing it.” A group of four students determined that they could make a difference in their local community by joining together around their interest in fighting hunger. Junior, Sophie Content shares, “There’s so much good we can do in our daily lives, with very little effort. This project is going to make a impact on people’s lives for a long time. Also, it’s really important to raise awareness that food insecurity is everywhere, even in our small town.”
The Loving Kindness food pantry is a free-standing, cabinet-sized pantry that contains non-perishable food items which are available to anyone in need. It is located at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Centreville, which located at 301 S. Liberty Street. The box is next to the prayer garden.
In order to successfully complete the project, Wye River students partnered with the church as well as other community professionals. The building of partnerships is considered an important growth opportunity for students at Wye River and a way to practice critical life skills like communication and collaboration. Students called a meeting with Reverend Mary Garner of St. Paul’s and discussed the design and location. They wanted the design to reflect the aesthetic of the church. They reached out to Ace Hardware in Centreville who generously donated the materials. Finally, the students enlisted the help of a professional carpenter, Dave Stehle, who is the parent of a WRUS alumni. Stehle advised them about materials, design, and helped with the construction of the pantry.
The name, Loving Kindness Pantry is significant to the students. It was inspired by a scholarship that is awarded each year by Saint Paul’s Church to a graduating Wye River senior – The Loving, Kindness Award.
Community members are invited and encouraged to contribute non-perishable items such as hearty soups with peel back lids, protein bars, water bottles, toiletries, warm socks, gloves, and umbrellas. Donations may be dropped off at the front office of Wye River Upper School or added directly to the pantry. “Our group believes that the philosophy should be ‘Take what you need. Give what you can,’” stated Wye River freshman, Jackson Maddox. Wye River students will be helping sustain this project for years to come and they hope that this makes an impact beyond expectations.