When Ranney School fifth grader Ashleigh Conroy determined to do something to combat hunger in her community, she went to Patricia Marshall, Head of the Lower School, with a proposal for a community service project.
When Ranney School fifth grader Ashleigh Conroy determined to do something to combat hunger in her community, she went to Patricia Marshall, Head of the Lower School, with a proposal for a community service project. “A lot of people are hungry and homeless because of the economy,” Ashleigh wrote in her plan, “…and no one should go a day without anything to eat.” Unbeknownst to Ashleigh, her idea was about to get a boost from the very organization she sought to promote.
Ashleigh’s proposal called for a school-wide canned food and coin drive to benefit the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties; a charity Ashleigh says “helps so many people in the community.” Her written plan, which is required of any Lower School student seeking to involve other students in an outside community service project, included important statistics about hunger in the region, as well as tips for sponsoring and promoting a food drive. Ironically, Ashleigh’s suggestion came just as the FoodBank prepared to launch its “Kids Change Hunger” campaign with TD Bank, distributing cardboard FoodBank truck “piggy” banks to students throughout the region so they could deposit their spare change, which would then be donated to the hungry.
Mrs. Marshall called the two initiatives a wonderful coincidence, adding that it was only natural for Ashleigh to lead the program at Ranney School. “From the earliest age, students at Ranney School are taught that caring for humanity, serving others and embracing social commitment are fundamental aspects of a purposeful life,” she said. “Therefore, when our students desire to take the initiative and make a difference in their community, we do our best to support that desire.”
Today, more than 300 of Ashleigh’s schoolmates, from first through fifth grade, filled the school’s RSPA Panther Hall for a special assembly to help kick-off the “Kids Change Hunger” campaign in Monmouth county, and to launch their own canned food drive. Mrs. Marshall began the program with a short discussion of “empathy” versus “sympathy”, explaining to the students that empathy takes great courage “because it requires the ability to put one’s self into someone else’s shoes… to understand their needs and wants. When you understand someone, you are better able to help them,” she added.
Ashleigh presented a short power point presentation about homelessness and hunger to the gathering, stressing that “there are more hungry people than ever before.” Barbara Sholz, Development Director for the FoodBank, agreed with her point, asking students to give their support to this very important cause.
Ranney School has long tradition of supporting the FoodBank. Upper School students volunteer each month at the FoodBank, sorting and packing food supplies. A canned food drive in the Lower and Middle School this past holiday season netted an incredible 2,000 pounds of food for families in the local community. Last spring, the Lower School community service club and outreach proposal program earned the students in the division the Monmouth-Ocean County Community Spirit Award.
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