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Art of Kids Helping Kids is Food for All


As Oriole Park Elementary fourth-grader Adam Lagerway painted a cardboard carrot, second-grader Allie Evans thought about how a local organization feeds hungry students. “Six thousand sack suppers!” she shouted, while transforming her own art materials into food shapes.

Students in teacher Laura Sluys’ special education class were making a sculpture out of recycled materials with a visiting artist from the organization Artists Creating Together.

The piece was donated to Kids’ Food Basket, a non-profit the class has worked all year to support.

Semia Hatambo carries trail mix

Students presented the completed sculpture, a box with food flowing out of it like a cornucopia, to Brandy Arnold, KFB Kids Helping Kids coordinator. Painted brightly were cardboard, cans, toilet paper rolls, bottles and other items made into sandwiches, apples, juice boxes, bananas, celery and yogurt.

It was the culmination of a school year spent combining creativity, compassion and lots of trail mix. Sluys received a $200 Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation Service Learning Grant to fund the project with KFB, dubbed “Disabling Hunger.”

She also received a grant through Artists Creating Together, which provides artist-in-residencies for students with special needs across Kent County for her class to complete the project with artist Nora Faber.

Sluys said she decided to combine the two experiences for her students. “It helps them connect all the pieces of what they’ve been doing.”

Throughout the school year, Sluys’ students have completed monthly efforts for KFB. They led all Oriole Park students in decorating and donating 214 bags for Brown Bag Decorating Day.

Students raised money for Kids Food Basket by collecting pennies
Students raised money for Kids Food Basket by collecting pennies

They made and packed trail mix in 100 plastic sandwich bags. They collected pennies to donate.

A $300 Target stores field trip grant also funded a grocery-shopping trip to purchase food to donate, and students volunteered at KFB. “We put some pudding in baskets so they can give them to kids that are hungry,” said second-grader Jamiah Abron.

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Kids Food Basket

Artists Creating Together

Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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