Yorktown middle schoolers read to feed thousands

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A banner at Yorktown Middle School congratulates students for raising nearly $3,000 for Stop Hunger Now, a Raleigh, NC-based nonprofit working to end hunger by providing food and aid to vulnerable communities. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)

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Every time Yorktown Middle School students packaged enough grains, dried vegetables and vitamins to feed 1,000 people Monday morning, a student stood on the school’s stage and struck a gong with a mallet, the sound resonating through the auditorium.

The issue of global hunger had resonated with the students long before Monday’s effort—if it weren’t for the $2,944.08 they raised in reading pledges, 10,159 meals would not have been prepared.

“One child at a time, we work to end world hunger,” said Jessica Carter, a certified hunger event facilitator with Stop Hunger Now. “[The students] can look at the impact and say ‘We changed the lives of people here.’”

This semester sixth, seventh and eighth grade students learned about global hunger in their English classes and committed to individual reading goals to raise money for Stop Hunger Now, a Raleigh, NC-based nonprofit working to end hunger by providing food and aid to vulnerable communities.

While some students set goals based on the number of books or the number of chapters they would read, others collected donations as they read. Seventh grader Haylie Garnett raised $115 by reading 596 pages, a donation that covered the cost of nearly 400 meals.

“It just makes you feel good to know you’re helping someone across the world or that you saved a life by doing this,” Garnett said.

During their last full day of classes, dozens of students volunteered time to pack bags with rice, soybeans, dried vegetables, vitamins and minerals. Each bag contains enough ingredients for six meals, Carter said.

Students also weighed, sealed, labeled and packaged the bags in boxes to be delivered to the Stop Hunger Now warehouse in Richmond. The meals will likely be delivered to a developing country, Carter said.

“You’re just helping the community and the world,” said eighth grader Skyla Bailey. “It’s cool how everyone put money in.”

Eighth grader Annie Liang, who read 20 chapter books to raise $20, was impressed with her school’s total donation.

“We’re such a small town,” Liang said. “A small town can make a big difference.”