Generosity and caring are important to members of the Empowerment Club at Lincoln Elementary School. That explains why the fourth and fifth graders organized a donation drive for the school-based food pantry Barb Food Mart as the club’s first project.
The result was a February surprise for the pantry, a big box of toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper and food, all items requested by families who visit Barb Food Mart.
Started last fall by fourth-grade teacher Katie Slou, the Empowerment Club has 15 members that meet once a week during recess. The goal is to provide a place for the members to discuss issues and ways to make meaningful changes in the school and community.
Mrs. Slou said that the students have led the way with ideas. “They understand that they have the power to change the world and if they’re going to be change makers, they need to start at our school.”
Members of the Empowerment Club are passionate about the group. Armani Williams said that the club means a lot to her. “It inspires us to be the best version of ourselves and encourages us to help others and ourselves.”
Sydney Nall said, “The club is a safe place in our school, where we can make friends and discuss issues.” Samantha Graschmayr added, “It means a lot to me to help the community.”
Mrs. Slou has taught in the DeKalb School District since 2012 and has been a teacher at Lincoln for four years. She said she is inspired by the students’ enthusiasm and hopes to see the concept of
the Empowerment Club adopted by other schools.
The club is already planning its next project, a book collection drive for the many children who stop by Barb Food Mart with their families. The pantry has seen a large increase in traffic over the past two years, with as many as 225 family visits every week.
Located at 900 E. Garden Street, the pantry is open on Thursdays from 4:30 - 6 p.m. to any family with a student enrolled in a school in the DeKalb School District. More than 60% of students in the district qualify for free and reduced school meals.
Families choose from an array of fresh produce, milk, meat and a variety of other items, both at the door and ahead of time using a simple online ordering system. Food distribution continues to be outdoors as a way to keep families and volunteers safe. More information about accessing, volunteering and donating to the pantry and how to order food ahead of time is at www.barbfoodmart.com.