Mariposa School kids raise money for Little Britain food bank

By William McGinn

The SOAR group at Mariposa Elementary School. Photo: William McGinn.

The picture in this story is of kids with their arms out like an airplane’s wings, as their pose for their new SOAR group (Students Organize Awareness & Response.) Their teacher didn’t feel a need to pose with them because a lot of their successes are theirs alone, she says.

At Mariposa Elementary School, the group, made up of their seventh and eighth grade kids, recently finished the Trick Hunger and Treat the Foodbank campaign that brought in 831 items to the Little Britain Community Food Bank. With about 385 students enrolled in the school, that is over two food items per person. Volunteer Reid Boyd said in an email to them, “Your contribution will allow us to continue assisting families especially over the Christmas season. We are very grateful for your support.”

Upon having returned to in-class learning during the previous school year, Mariposa’s senior students were using a Me to We format, but decided to try their own advocacy methods. Most of their current and previous causes stemmed from Me to We, but the SOAR group is made up of “student captains for each campaign and they are self-motivated,” said Lori Moore, Grade 7 Teacher at Mariposa.

Lori Moore, Grade 7 Teacher at Mariposa. Photo: William McGinn.

“At the start of the year,” explained one of the SOAR leader, Myriah Mason, “we get together, show our ideas, and brainstorm. We then decide what causes would be best to pursue, when to do so and who should be in charge of them.”

“Teachers trust us enough to give us the responsibility of running it,” said Josephine Heber, another SOAR leader.

The food drive was their first cause of the new school year, and it had five of the students ask for goods when trick or treating, but most of the donations came from making announcements over the intercom and teachers emailing parents, which is how the word mainly gets out on their drives.

“Last year we really focused on people who were in need and didn’t have everything that we have,” said another leader Zoe Karkoulas, “We realized we were very fortunate, so we wanted to give to others who weren’t. It feels good helping the community knowing that for once, everything isn’t about what I’m doing in my life.”

Another way they have gotten the word out is doing presentations to classes, including older ones. Josephine called it “a little nerve-wracking.” The leaders said most of the kids are courteous but some of the younger ones could be restless, but either way they have learned a lot about expressing themselves.

“The SOAR group has grown from last year a little,” said leader Hannah Cameron. “There’s now interest from the younger grades. Last year there was only one sixth grader in the group and this year we have more younger students interested.”

The eighth graders of SOAR will graduate in 2023, and Zoe said she hopes the lasting impression she and the others give will allow the group to continue expanding.

Their current projects are The Shoebox Project, an international charity that distributes gift-filled shoeboxes to local women experiencing homelessness, and donations for the Kinsmen Toy Drive. They also expect to sell Candygrams to support local families in need during the holiday season and the Walk for Water in the upcoming summer to raise awareness for Indigenous issues. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.