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BCLUW Middle School students pay it forward with human food chain

T-R PHOTOS BY CHUCK FRIEND - Elle Schipper hands food item to Dianna Haywood of the Community Food bank, while Barb Schwarck looks on. Students from BCLUW Middle School made a real-life food chain to deliver donations to the food bank.

UNION – Students at BCLUW Middle School in Union are putting learning into action after fifth grade students Ainsley Geelhart and Elle Schipper took the “Pay it Forward” challenge from teacher’s aide Denise Bonzer.

Forming a book club, making May baskets for the middle school students and their latest project — a Food Drive with delivery by a human chain — were some of the ways these two fifth grade students involved the entire middle school student body to “Pay it Forward.”

Geelhart said the seed was planted when Bonzer gave each of the fifth grade students a book titled “Pay it Forward” before winter break. The book is about a boy who took the challenge of thinking of an idea for world change and to put it into action.

Bonzer challenged her students to read the book and come back after break with ideas of putting it into action at BCLUW.

“We wanted to talk about what happened in the book so we started a book club so we could talk about it, and then to think of projects for us to do,” Schipper said. “Our first project was the May Baskets for the students.”

Bonzer said making the 200 baskets was harder as these two girls were the only two students to accept the challenge – but things did not stop there. They wanted to do more.

“The Pay it Forward book club invited students and their parents to help them with their next project,” Bonzer said. “From May 13-29, the students hosted a food drive for the BCLUW Community Food Bank, which is housed in the Union Community Church.”

On June 3, delivery was made – the way it was done was unique.

“Every student and staff member from the BCLUW Middle school participated in making a human chain and will pass the food items from the school to the food bank – some six or seven blocks away,” Schipper said.

Geelhart said she liked the project because it was a way for the students to help people. “Some people just do not have the money to buy a lot of food and they can go to the food pantry and get it when they need it,” she said.

Bonzer said that she is glad the food bank is for the entire BCLUW community, and that families in the district who need more food in the summer can go and get it.

“This was our first attempt as a project like this, but we hope to keep the Pay if Forward project going annually with more and more students getting involved,” Bonzer said. “I hope human food chain event makes a lasting impact about kindness and helping others on our students.

“Although our book club is small, we are mighty. Everyone needs to remember that even small acts of kindness can have a ripple effect – that is how we change the world.”

And overheard along the chain was one teacher giving this reminder, “Remember these are big things from little people – you are making a difference.”