DOBSON — A group of 26 Dobson and Copeland Elementary Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program students was focused on shopping Food Lion in Dobson Wednesday afternoon.
They walked down the aisles, calculators drawn with coupons in hand and eyes studying the prices on the shelf labels. Unlike other holiday shoppers around them, their purchases go to help families they may not have even met.
They are part of the Kids Feeding Kids program, which, according to program coordinator and AIG teacher Emily Wilmoth, is in its second year. She said the process begins when students in grades 4-5 at Dobson and Copeland elementary schools read stories about people whose decisions, along with their financial situations, lead to greed, hunger, or homelessness. Some stories teach students people can be the victims of circumstances they cannot control.
This theme was chosen from fictional stories and non-fiction articles the students had been reading. Wilmoth said the project also incorporates health, financial, and civic literacy in the lessons.
The students read quotes about their responsibility as citizens to have compassion and empathy for others. Students were then asked to do chores at home to raise money to spend at Food Lion to use for the Backpack Program in their own school. There were math lessons about coupon usage, figuring tax, and comparing brands to get the best bargain. After students shopped they take the food back to school and put it in storage. Wilmoth said there will be a time of reflection and discussion by students following this phase of the project.
“I helped my dad stack wood,” said student Arial Holt. She and fellow Copeland classmates Peggy Prevette and Emma Bullin did chores which included cleaning around their homes and Prevette said she helped take care of her grandmother Carol Matthews, who is recovering from surgery. Each participant’s goal was to earn $10 through chores at home or for neighbors.
The girls said shopping went “pretty much” as they had expected and said they had previous experience helping their parents shop. Wilmoth said all of the program this year were also involved with Kids Feeding Kids last year. Driver Darla Jordan said she was pleasantly surprised how many adults turned out this year for the shopping project.
“We plan to continue on making this an annual tradition,” said Wilmoth. “We’d like to have additional projects in the future as well.” She said students were also taught about healthy food selection and introduced to concepts, like non-perishable, to help them with their shopping. The backpack program also provides a list of acceptable foods. She said students learn how finances affect food choices.
Wilmoth said she tells the students to pick what they like, while qualifying this with the direction that this does not mean a 12-pack of cookies. She said this year she was encouraged by seeing students pick un-sweetened applesauce because they knew it is healthier. Wilmoth said she was impressed by almost all of the children’s accuracy on hitting their spending limit.
She said any unused money from Kids Feeding Kids goes back to the two elementary schools funds for needy students. Assistant Store Manager Dexter Gore watched the young shoppers eagerly staring at the totals on the register’s POS screens.
“What they are doing is really amazing. When I was their age all I thought about was playing sports,” said Gore. “The kids are so well behaved. It amazes me how they are learning things this important this early.”
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