Small school has a big heart

Published 8:05 pm Thursday, December 17, 2009

Elephant’s Fork Elementary School is showing others that size does not matter when it comes to doing good works.

One of the smaller Suffolk elementary schools, Elephant’s Fork raised more non-perishable food items than any other Suffolk school in a recent food drive. And the student who donated the most items at Elephant’s Fork was a first grader, Sophia Roane.

“We began collecting cans the first weekend of November, and the teachers and children kept the momentum going after Thanksgiving,” said Crystal Whitley, a guidance counselor at who spearheaded the drive. “The spirit of giving just caught on — the good it creates and makes an individual feel. That spreads.”

And did it ever spread. The students collected a total of 1,532 non-perishable food items for the Salvation Army.

“We walked to each class and explained what it was about,” said Briyonna Anderson, a fifth grader at Elephant’s Fork.

Briyonna is a student ambassador, one of a group of students who helped promote the event.

“We explained it would be for a good cause and that we needed to collect as many cans as we could,” said Alyssa Farmer, also a fifth-grade student ambassador.

Whitley said the drive also was promoted on the school blog, and the school sent a notice home to parents. But, she added, it was the students who did all the work.

While there were rewards for the class that donated the most items and for each child who donated the most items in each class, at least some of the children didn’t do it for the prizes.

“I’m happy, because we get to help people have food so they don’t get hungry,” Sophia Roane said about donating so many cans.

“Even though there were rewards — those were extrinsic,” Whitley said. “The intrinsic rewards were knowing they helped people in need. They know they did the right thing in helping someone.”

“It’s a good feeling to know you help,” said R.J. Huff, a student ambassador. “Especially around Christmas, it’s better to give than to receive.”