Charlottetown students spread kindness with weekly donations to P.E.I. community fridge

·3 min read
From left to right, West Royalty Elementary school students Ella Classen Kearney, Aidan Smith, Elsa Zhang, Callum MacKinnon and Chace Rivington visited the P.E.I. Community Fridge on May 4. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC - image credit)
From left to right, West Royalty Elementary school students Ella Classen Kearney, Aidan Smith, Elsa Zhang, Callum MacKinnon and Chace Rivington visited the P.E.I. Community Fridge on May 4. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC - image credit)

Chace Rivington and his friends carried tote bags filled with things like pasta, cereals and canned goods out of West Royalty Elementary into the school's parking lot last week.

The Grade 6 student does this every week, helping load a vehicle with food items to donate to the P.E.I. Community Fridge.

"I always like helping out," Chace said. "It's important to me, because it helps other kids and families. It just feels good."

Chace is among many children at the school who participate in an initiative called the Kindness Project, where throughout the school year each class spends a week celebrating kindness. Last week, a group of them went on a field trip to the Community Fridge.

Thinh Nguyen/CBC
Thinh Nguyen/CBC

Other than bringing in food donations for the fridge, students share with the class the kind things they've done for others. They also create gifts for students in a younger grade to spread messages of kindness.

Full carload to fridge every week

School counsellor Kathy Burt came up with the idea for the project last fall. She volunteers time to clean the community fridge.

Burt told the school's administration about the fridge project and suggested the school create an initiative to promote a sense of community and kindness among students. She launched the Kindness Project in January.

Thinh Nguyen/CBC
Thinh Nguyen/CBC

"I have a full carload going [to the fridge] at the end of every week," Burt said.

"It's been lovely to create that awareness among our children, for them to see not only do we spread kindness with our families and friends and the people we know, but to give them that outer expansion to know that we take care of each other. And we also can spread kindness to other people, even when we don't know them personally."

The initiative helps many students learn about the community fridge.

Thinh Nguyen/CBC
Thinh Nguyen/CBC

"I've learned that the community fridge opened up in August, and it's a place if you need more food and you have food insecurity, you can go there and just take whatever you need from that fridge," said Ella Classen Kearney, who was among the group of students who went to the fridge.

"It's really good to donate there and it helps other people and it makes you feel nice about yourself even on gloomy days."

Ella also told members of her family about the fridge, and one has started donating to the fridge regularly. The Grade 6 student hopes more schools will be joining the initiative.

"It builds more awareness to people about the community fridge because if you tell a bunch of students about it, they'll tell their parents. The parents will tell other people and maybe everyone will tell their friends. And then, it kind of spreads around," said Ella.

Thinh Nguyen/CBC
Thinh Nguyen/CBC

At the moment, Burt takes weekly food donations to the community fridge alone, but she expects students will be more involved next year.

"Next year, we would hope it would be students not only picking up the food, putting it in my car, but going with me to the to the community fridge, stocking the shelf, stocking the pantry, and then going back to school," said Burt.

"Any time we can nurture not only caring, but that sense of contribution in students, it's really important for them."

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