This past Tuesday, my students took the best kind of test after reading a book: they brought its theme to life. After reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, we went through the typical conversation of squeezing out the recurring themes of the book. Over and over, Junior–the fictionalized version of Sherman Alexie–is pushed aside, marginalized. It isn’t until people start filling him with hope (including himself) that he finally realizes his potential.
So, I asked a very simple question: Who can we provide with hope who might not already have it?
Then, my 16/17-year-old kids (yes, kids–I love them like my own) started to plan:
- First, the idea. They bounced around plans of giving hope to our special education department and to incoming freshmen and to senior citizens–all of them, good ideas. But they landed, finally, on serving the people in our community who are in need of food.
- Second, the fundraising. Students gathered the necessary $545 to sponsor a food truck in all kind of wonderful ways: straight parent donations, collections around their lunch tables, taking out change from their pockets. In just a week, we had the money.
- Third, the planning. My students had to do the work of the food truck as well. Initially, they were running into roadblocks with lots of different calls to different companies. Then, we got smart about it. They connected themselves to a group of people who do this on a regular basis in our community: All Shores Wesleyan. Once we were connected, the the volunteers of All Shores Wesleyan took us in. They guided us along the way.
- Fourth, the execution. On Tuesday, the food truck arrived, the people in need arrived, and the students served.