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Photo by Diane Cox
Members of Christway Church in Godfrey volunteer to bag food that will go home with students who may not be able to receive proper nutrition away from school. The volunteers also surprised North Elementary administrators with a $300 donation for Project 3rd Day. Sandy and Jack Harley, Barb and James Lovallo, Susan and Bill Hiller, and Marylu Liley gave their time Feb. 2 to bag the groceries.
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Photo by Diane Cox
Assistant Principal Ann McLaughlin stands with Principal Tiana Montgomery and teachers Barb Erwin and Nancy Holtorf with tables of food that will be bagged and sent home with students in need over the long holiday weekend as a part of Project 3rd Day.
GODFREY — North Elementary third-grade teacher Barb Erwin saw a need in her students’ lives and took action.
Thanks to a state grant, each North student receives a free breakfast and lunch during the school week, but what about the days the school is closed for holidays?
“The program is called Project 3rd Day,” Erwin said. “There are children in our classrooms who may rely on school meals as their only form of nutrition; some are even homeless. As part of the program, I purchase non-perishable food items and they are bagged and distributed to students who are in need. Mrs. (Ann) McLaughlin has been a wonderful part of this program. She has really taken this program under her wing and found a way to make it happen.”
Erwin became aware of the program through a newsletter she received from Carlinville Area Hospital. She kept the name Project 3rd Day to honor those who originated the program. When North determines a child could benefit from the program, a letter is sent home along with a permission slip to be signed to be added to the recipient list.
Other students in the school are unaware who receives the much-needed help. The bagged goods are discreetly placed in the child’s backpack throughout the day on the Friday before a three-day weekend.
“No other kids will see the food distributed to the students on the list,” Erwin said. “We want those students to feel good, not singled out. It makes me feel good to help these kids. I know they need it. As teachers, we don’t just care about our students between the hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. We think of these kids all the time.”
Each bag of food contains items such as apples, oranges, Nutri-Grain bars, cereal, peanut butter, Capri Suns, trail mix and canned food items like Chef Boyardee’s. Roughly $10 worth of food items is included in every sack.
Businesses such as R.E. Erwin Gutters, Harman Auction House in Shipman and Godfrey Walmart have made donations to the program. Members of Christway Church in Godfrey volunteer to bag the groceries and on Feb. 12, the volunteers surprised North Elementary with a $300 donation toward the purchase of food for the next three-day holiday weekend.
“We have amazing teachers here at North and amazing members of our community who have offered their support,” North Elementary Assistant Principal Ann McLaughlin said. “We had always helped students in need in the past around Thanksgiving and Christmas; this program is in addition to those occasions. It pains me to think that any of our students might go hungry when they are away from school. We’ve been fortunate that Elm Street Presbyterian and Christway Church have sent volunteers. They make the process so much easier and faster. We really appreciate their help.”
Anyone interested in donating a Walmart gift card or making a monetary donation can contact McLaughlin at (618) 463-2171 during school hours or drop off donations at the main office. Checks may be payable to North Elementary with Project 3rd Day written on the memo line. The program costs approximately $4,000 per year.