By Casey Hans
A bologna-and-cheese assembly line took over the Wines Elementary School lunchroom on a recent Thursday.
A team of second-graders was preparing 100 bag lunches to be delivered to area shelters as part of the school’s Lunches With Love program. Many bags had personal messages written and drawn on them, offering words of encouragement to those who will ultimately consume them.
“The shelters wait for us. They call us ‘the bologna ladies,’” said parent volunteer Karin Brandt, who helped to set up the Wines program with former PTO President Sheri Belcher.
Brandt said she was looking for a simple, but meaningful, way to get involved with the school, and this was it. Food Gatherers came into the school, did an in-service training for parents to teach them to set it up, and they were off and running. “It’s an easy way for parents to get involved,” she said.
The Wines program is in its fifth year and is coordinated by parent Marie Sklar who said it is done every other Thursday, allowing each classroom at Wines to rotate through the Lunches With Love effort during the school year. A similar program is also done at Burns Park Elementary, organizers said.
Sklar said the program is a great way for Wines to link with the community at large. “It’s a nice mitzvah,” she said. “We’re fortunate in this community. It’s something for them (students) to learn at a young age.”
Once the parent volunteers get things set up, it takes not even an hour for students to come in, make the sandwiches and pack them up for delivery. “The kids are so self-sufficient,” she added. “They pretty much know what to do.”
Parents get what food they can from Food Gatherers and supplement that with trips to the grocery story. They spend between $30-50 for each Lunches With Love, mostly funded through the Wines PTO Community Service Outreach Fund.
“The teachers try to explain this might be someone’s only meal today,” said parent volunteer Patty Kersch. Students “write messages, they do beautiful pictures. I think they really get it.”
Casey Hans edits this newsletter for The Ann Arbor Public Schools. E-mail her or call 734-994-2090 (internal ext. 51228.)
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