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“Crazy” Idea Helps Midvale Middle School Students Enjoy the Holidays

Jan 26, 2016 11:01AM ● Published by Stephanie Lauritzen

By Stephanie Lauritzen | Stephanie@mycityjournals.com

Midvale - The holidays can be a difficult time for students who rely on free breakfast and lunch programs during the school year. After reading an article about high-risk students going hungry during the two-week winter break, Midvale Middle School principal Wendy Dau decided to find a way to help her students stay happy and healthy.  Her plan was ambitious. 

“Schools have done cereal drives in the past, but I wanted to do even more. I decided that if I could send each student home with a case of ramen – at least 14 packages, one for each day of the break – two boxes of cereal and one large jar of peanut butter, I might be on the right track to help these students and their families,” Dau said. 

In order to achieve this goal, Dau  needed to collect 750 cases of ramen, 1,500 boxes of cereal, and 750 jars of peanut butter within just a few weeks. 

“Everyone told me I was insane, and that it would never happen. But we exceeded this goal. We received over 2,000 cases of ramen, 2,000 boxes of cereal and 800 jars of peanut butter,” she said. 

In addition to food donations, Midvale Middle School also received monetary donations used by Dau to buy school supplies such as binders, pens and pencils for her students.  

“I never want a child to lose access to learning because he or she doesn’t have the right supplies. We will provide them. This is my obligation as a principal,” she said.

Dau said any extra monetary donations will go towards maintaining school supplies and a food pantry to help students throughout the year. She let the community know of her goals via Facebook, and her post was shared by the school secretary as well as by coworkers and friends. She contacted principals at other schools, and worked with both parents and students to collect supplies. 

“Matt Bell and Carrie Earl from Jordan High School worked with their Latinos in Action club and student body officers to collect 1,000 boxes of cereal. Eastmont Middle extended our initial goal by collecting winter clothing, and basically adopted our school for the holidays. The principal at Brighton High collected goods, and a mother at Draper Park Middle School dropped off truckloads of things each week. Everything was done simply based on connections between teachers and individuals,” she said.

Dau joked that this isn’t the first time she’s tried something “crazy.” 

“At this point, people generally feel sorry for me when I try something a little nuts, and are often willing to help me out. But, I never thought we would get so much help. The response was overwhelming,” she said.

At Jordan High School, student body officer adviser Carrie Earl was happy for the opportunity to teach her students the importance of service. 

“Our job includes teaching kids to build character, it’s not just about schooling. Part of our role as teachers is helping our students learn how to be good people,” Earl said. 

Additionally, Earl believes that service is a key component in Canyon School District’s mission statement for all students to graduate “career and college ready.” 

“Character is a key component to a successful adulthood, not just academics,” Earl said. 

As for Dau, she believes the experience helped her learn something new as well. 

“I have learned that you must dream big. When you don’t let the mentality of scarcity limit you, great things are possible. I feel extremely happy to be part of a district where the more affluent areas came to our assistance so willingly and so completely. My faith in humanity has been restored,” she said. 

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