The fourth-graders at Providence Spring Elementary have learned a lot this year, but the most impactful lesson may be one that wasn't on the curriculum.
"Operation Sandwich made me think about the poor and understand what it's like and how sad it is," said 11-year-old Thomas Kemble. "Whenever I'm making sandwiches I feel so good because I'm doing the right thing."
Operation Sandwich was a five-day event the week of May 23, when the fourth-grade students made more than 3,000 sandwiches and packed them into lunches for people in need.
The kids arrived at school between 7 and 7:30 a.m. and got to work assembling meals complete with two sandwiches, fruit, chips or crackers, condiments, a mint, and homemade cookies.
The food was packed into large paper sacks that the kids decorated with pictures and inspirational messages, then delivered by parent volunteers to Urban Ministries of Charlotte for distribution. All told, these kids, ranging from 9 to 11 years old, made more than 600 sandwiches a day and prepared full meals for about 1,500 people. They each helped raise money for Operation Sandwich through snack sales at school and by earning money at home with extra chores.
The students put a lot of time into making cards and notes to add to the lunches, with messages like, "Keep smiling!" and "Never back down. You can do it!"
The kids in Linda O'Connor's class were invited to her home for a day of baking and contributed more than 500 cookies.
"I never knew Operation Sandwich would take this much work," said Lily McCormick. "But it was so much fun."
The service project included teaching opportunities in math, writing and social studies, but the kids figured out the biggest part of the lesson on their own.
"Knowing that I am helping people just makes my day and puts a smile on my face," said Allyn Vance.
Ansley Brooks added, "What I learned is that something small can make a huge difference."