Hawthorne 5th grade teacher Marcus Powers went to get pizza at Little Caesar’s one day and returned with an important mission for his students.
“As I was sitting there waiting, there was homeless man that walked in. He’s like, ‘Do you have any pizza you can give away that people haven’t picked up?’ They were like, ‘Manager says no. We can’t give you anything.’ He’s like, ‘Well, do you have anything in the garbage that I can have?’ She’s like, ‘No, we can’t allow that.’ He hung his head low, then he walked away,” said Marcus.
Marcus shared this experience with his students. Together, they decided to raise money for gift cards that the store could use to buy meals for the homeless people that come in seeking food.
“Now, of course, being a Title 1 school and in this area, not all the students have money. Some wanted to give change; others gave dollars. They gave what they could give,” said Marcus.
For every dollar donated, he matched it with two dollars. So far, the students have raised $30. They donated three gift cards labeled with “Hawthorne 5th Grade Class” to the store. They are hoping to give more gift cards to more restaurants in the future.
DJ, who raised the most money in the class, also volunteers at the Day Center.
“I feel sad because they don’t have anywhere to live and nothing to eat. I thought it was a good idea to feed the homeless people,” he said.
DJ offered suggestions for how other people can help out.
“Make food for them. Give them some new clothes. For the kids, you can buy them some toys,” he said.
“They take from what they see happening in the environment where they see people without, and they become a solution," said Marcus. "If they can see they can become a solution instead of a problem, then they can find their place. Everyone has problems, but we don’t have too many people become the solution to people’s problems. In math, we see how a problem is created, and they have to create a solution by using the tools that they have."
“These students, sometimes they can give time; sometimes they can give money; sometimes they can give thoughts. We continue to expand as to how we can impact the community in a positive way by different means. It’s extremely valuable for these students to also look after one another in this community.”
Marcus said they are looking for ways the whole school can get involved to give back. Next year, they hope to start a garden to grow food for the community.