Students at Morgan Twp. (Porter County) elementary south of Valparaiso enjoy reading, but ever since their reading started to help feed the hungry, they like to read even more.
For the duration of the 2012-13 school year, the students have taken part Heifer International's Read to Feed program.
The "Read to Feed" program encourages students to read, and at the same time teaches them that their actions can make a difference. The more books students read, they improve their reading abilities, and more families receive training and livestock gifts through Heifer International.
Children, as a group or individually, raise funds through sponsors—money is earned from each book read. At the same, they are taught in the classroom about world hunger, poverty and sustainable development.
According to Laura Stoner, a farm wife who has several kids at Morgan Twp. Elementary, the school first became aware of the program through an article in the Exchange. According to Stoner, all 300 students at the school have participated.
"The kids are really reading, and donating!" she said.
At the end of this month, according to Stoner and school Principal Michelle Friesen-Carper, the students will have donated a total of $12,000 to Heifer International.
Through gifts of livestock, Heifer International aims to help people help themselves. Heifer volunteers teach people all over the world how to raise livestock and use their animals for food and income.
The $12,000 raised by Morgan Twp. Elementary students has gone a long way. To date, the money has gone to purchase 29 flocks of chickens, 19 rabbits, eight water buffalo, seven goats, four llamas, nine pigs, one set of geese, 19 flocks of ducks, nine honeybee hives, five heifers, three sheep and three camels.
"We will have more by the end of the (school) year," Stoner said.
"We have had a few large donations but the majority of the money donated has come in little amounts from our community," said Stoner. "We tell the kids that if each person does a little it can add up to a lot, that has been proven true in many ways."
Friesen-Carper was not only thrilled that students in her school have learned the value of giving, but also the fact that they have fallen in love with reading. She said students who are good readers perform better in other areas of school as well.
Last Thursday at the school, students were able to see two llamas, which were brought to the school by a 4-H member. Since money they have raised has gone toward purchasing four llamas, this was yet another educational moment for the students, some of whom had never seen a llama before.