Share Our Strength will debut a new curriculum for its Coins for Kids program in March that may “make change” in the way students learn about money.
Aleta Greer, an elementary school teacher with the Alpine (Calif.) School District near San Diego, created the program last winter. The idea was to mesh identifying coins with the community service requirement of California’s educational standards. Students brought in spare change to fill plastic tubs, and the money was charted weekly before eventually being donated to SOS’ No Kid Hungry program.
Some of Greer’s students summed up the program with this cute video.
It was only supposed to be a two-week, service-learning project, but the results kept adding up. Coins for Kids eventually grew into a fourth-month campaign that raised $1,522 and the eyebrows of SOS’ program leaders.
The initiative was so smart and successful that the hunger-relief organization included it as a fundraising idea on its youth-action Web site No Kid Hungry2.
Now the nonprofit has charged Greer with developing a formal curriculum that teachers across the nation may implement to make learning – and giving – fun.
“The kids just wanted to keep going,” Greer said. “They made and sold music makers, we had a school-wide fundraising contest between classes and they just really looked forward to graphing their progress on Fridays.
“We started by asking them if they’ve ever been hungry and what that feels like. They had a very strong response.”
Greer got inspired last year while watching “Larry King Live.” Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges was on the show advocating for No Kid Hungry. Greer loved the vision, but saw an opportunity to add the component of kids helping kids.
A 34-year veteran of education, Greer said although it’s hard to know what jobs there will be in 20 years certainly teaching students to think more globally will be important. Coins for Kids teaches a number of skills, she said, including how to be good critical thinkers and collaborators.
Several local businesses got on board as well.
Manana’s, a family restaurant in Alpine, hosted a day where about 25 percent of their proceeds were donated for the cause. The Mission Federal Credit Union also let Greer’s class count its 80 pounds of coins without the standard 10 percent fee.
“We have even bigger plans to involve more businesses this year,” Greer said. “We’re also going to have an ice cream social, a wear orange day and several other things. It’s a lot of fun to see the kids do something selfless and realize the intrinsic job of what it means to help someone else.”
There were a number of inspirational takeaways, Greer said, including a “thank you” video from SOS co-founder Billy Shore. He promised that the money would go to feed as many hungry children as possible. He also urged the children to stay involved in their community.
“In our video you see several students, some of whom are very shy,” Greer said. “There’s also one boy who stutters, but none of them hesitated to participate because it meant so much to them. We had several goals when we started, and No. 1 was helping hungry kids.”
To learn more about starting a Coins for Kids initiative at your school, visit the No Kid Hungry2 Web site and click through “Leaders Tackle Hunger” to the “Fundraise” hyperlink. Also look for the curriculum update in March.
Child Hunger Facts:
• More than 16 million kids in America struggle with hunger. (Source: USDA Household Food Security in the United States). That’s one in five kids or over 21% of all kids.
• 10.6 million kids who are eligible for free or reduced-price school breakfast do not get it. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, School Breakfast Scorecard)
• 19 million kids get a free or reduced-price school lunch on an average school day. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, School Breakfast Scorecard)
• Five out of six eligible kids do not get free summer meals. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report”
• 40.3 million people in America got help through SNAP (food stamps) in 2010; half of them (20.1 million) were children. (Source: USDA Food and Nutrition Services)
• 15.5 million children in America live in poverty. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports).
Source: Share Our Strength