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Kindergartners learn life lessons stocking Little Free Pantry

Reading, writing, arithmetic — these are all common lessons for school-aged children. For kindergartners at Chocowinity Primary School this week, the lesson went beyond curriculum, as students learned about  the value of helping people in need.

Monday, the entire CPS kindergarten class made a special trip across the river to visit the little free pantry behind Rachel K’s Bakery. Earlier this month, the pantry was completely emptied after being stocked a few days earlier. One-by-one, the 92 kindergartners took turns placing items in the box, each donating a food item that could help someone dealing with homelessness or hunger.

The field trip to Washington came as students were studying a book called “Last Stop on Market Street.” The book tells the story of a young boy named C.J. who rides the bus with his grandmother across town every Sunday to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Along the way, C.J. questions why they must ride the bus and makes observations about the problems of the city, all met by encouraging answers from his grandmother.

“We related it to real life for them, that it’s not just a storybook about people that need help,” CPS kindergarten teacher Emily Houston said. “It’s real life that there are people in our community that need help from others. We tried to make a self connection with them.”

While Houston says, developmentally, students tend to be very self-focused in the kindergarten years, the teachers at the school hope lessons like this one will stick with them as they grow.

“We try to get them to do things like work together for common goals, like for the betterment of the whole community,” Houston said.

LITTLE KIDS, BIG DIFFERENCE: Chocowinity Primary School kindergarten students show off the items they brought to donate to the little free pantry. With each of the 92 students bringing at least one food item, the class was able to fill the pantry. (Emily Houston)

Of course, the connection between the Market Street in the book and the fact that Rachel K’s sits on Market Street was not lost on the kids or their teachers.

“We were like, ‘Last Stop on Market Street, here we are!’” Houston laughed. “We actually read the book again to them as we were sitting beside the food pantry to kind of remind them about the whole point of what we were doing for the day.”

The little free pantry, which was unveiled in April 2018, is meant to serve as a resource to ensure no one goes hungry in Washington. It is one several in Washington, including at First Christian Church on East Third Street and behind First Presbyterian Church on Gladden Street.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the pantries can make donations any time of day. The following items are welcome and needed:

  • Granola bars, energy bars, crackers
  • Trail mix, nuts and dried fruits
  • Canned ready-to-eat items like baked beans, ravioli and Vienna sausages
  • Canned meats such as tuna and chicken
  • Dry goods such as rice, beans and pasta
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Personal care items such as tampons, toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, soap and shampoo.

Monetary donations are also accepted at the restaurant to help keep the box stocked with food. For more information about the Little Free Pantry project, or to get plans to build one of your own, click to www.littlefreepantry.org.