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Quincy Elementary School students organize a food drive
Third-graders at Quincy Elementary School spent two weeks collecting 1,204 cans of food, equaling 525 pounds, for donation to Catholic Charities on Tuesday. The “Canmunity” collection project is part of the students’ social studies unit in Kara Fiehler’s and Paige Hosey’s classes. (Angela Deines/The Capital-Journal)

This Topeka Capital-Journal article on a student food drive in the Quincy Elementary School demonstrates how students are helping those in need. Reporter: Angela Deines.


Quincy students donate 1,204 cans of food to Catholic Charities

Nearly 100 percent of students at Quincy Elementary qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Yet, many of them also want to help those who may be less fortunate than they are.

“I’m struck by the fact that it’s the people who are struggling who know what it means to struggle,” said Brenda Guilfoyle, manager of the Topeka emergency assistance center for Catholic Charities. “They’re the first ones to be there for someone else. They know what that hardship and that loneliness feels like.”

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Guilfoyle said she “was floored” when she got an email from principal Susan Liotta about the Quincy students wanting to donate canned goods to Catholic Charities.

“It’s that kind of giving, when you take from what little you have and give to others,” Guilfoyle said. “These third-graders could teach a lot of adults, including me, what it means to truly give.”

Students in Kara Fiehler and Paige Hosey’s third-grade classes spearheaded the two-week donation drive that netted 1,204 cans equaling 525 pounds of food.

“We study the community in social studies,” Fiehler said. “We tied social studies into our donation and called it our ‘Canmunity.’ ”

Before Tuesday’s donation to Catholic Charities, Fiehler said, students used the cans to build replicas of Garfield Community Center, Quincy Elementary and a playground. She said the importance of giving back to the community is something that is stressed continuously at the school.

“You’re given a lot,” she said, “so we need to also give. It’s about the give and the take. They really enjoyed being able to give.”

Guilfoyle said she was impressed the Quincy students were able to collect the 525 pounds of food in just two weeks, surpassing monthlong efforts of many corporate donors.

On Nov. 16, Guilfoyle was a “principal for a day,” a Topeka Unified School District 501 annual event that invites community leaders into the district’s schools for a day. They are able to see the daily work of principals, teachers and other staff with students up close. Guilfoyle said she was “amazed by the experience,” especially seeing the affection Liotta showed her students.

“I saw a lot of things that day that were remarkable,” she said. “It’s like an oasis of teachers where it’s not a profession but a passion with them. They care a great deal for these kids.”

Contact reporter Angela Deines at (785) 295-1143 or @AngelaDeines on Twitter.


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