Buford Elementary School kindergartners Alex Mitchell, left, and Mya Richardson pack up meal boxes for North Gwinnett Co-op on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Buford Elementary School kindergarteners showed that their young age doesn’t prevent them from helping families in their community celebrate Christmas with a feast.

Kindergarten classes helped pack up meal boxes full of food donated by students’ and teachers’ families on Wednesday. The boxes are going to the North Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry in Buford, which organizes a holiday meals campaign for pre-approved families to pick up Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. The co-op provided roughly 700 Thanksgiving meals a few weeks ago.

Lee Richardson, a parent of a Buford Elementary student, first approached the school with the idea of partnering with North Gwinnett Co-op.

“I think hunger often looks a lot different than we expect,” he said. “It goes beyond homeless individuals and families. If we can teach children to be aware and to care then we can make a difference.”

Leading up to the event on Wednesday, students were introduced to service learning topics on the morning announcements and had the opportunity to have a classroom conversation about the topic with their teachers. Each classroom decorated their holiday meal box and some students wrote cards as well.

Buford Elementary School principal Mark Graves said the project serves Buford City Schools’ mission to empower students to be critical thinkers and productive citizens. He also pointed to research that indicated civic engagement at a young age positively effects graduation rates and job skills years down the road.

“From the onset, we discussed that this would be a student led project,” Graves said. “Teachers would guide the students through the process, but we wanted the students to take ownership in learning what it means to help and assist others in our community.”

The school’s guidance counselor Haleigh Tucker hoped the project sparked a lifetime of leadership in some students.

“Everyone has something they can share with others, whether that’s a gesture like paying off a struggling family’s water bill or sharing a smile and a, ‘Good morning,” greeting,” she said. “I think we all will find we have an important role in making a positive contribution to our community.”

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