Fifth grader Jonathan Duran raced up and down the sidewalk in front of Nampa’s Park Ridge Elementary on Wednesday, greeting car after car that pulled up.
“You might need to get one,” he yelled over his shoulder to classmate Kyla Seevers as vehicles stacked up in the parking lot.
Jonathan and his classmates don’t actually attend Park Ridge, but are learning from home this year through Nampa’s Online Virtual Academy. They visit the local elementary school regularly to pick up supplies from their online school teacher, Courtney Craner, drive-through style in the parking lot.
But Wednesday was special. Instead of picking up supplies, Craner’s students collected donations from locals contributing to their student-organized snack drive for low-income schools.
It was the first time Craner’s class has been together, in person, all year.
“It’s definitely fun to be back into the school setting. And it’s fun, especially, because they’re leading this,” said Kyla’s mother Kristin Seevers, as she watched the students in the parking lot. “They’re doing it. We’re not guiding them — except to stay out of traffic.”
Craner’s students organized a snack drive after seeing how quickly their own parents stepped up to donate supplies to their class. Craner shared her gratitude with students, because she used to work at a school where families couldn’t always afford to help out. She mentioned a friend, a teacher in another district, who posted on Instagram about students going hungry.
“Our parents gave a bunch of stuff to her, like overnight, really fast, which got me thinking if we can do that, maybe we can get snacks for hungry kids in schools,” Craner’s student, Audrey, said.
The class hatched a plot.
Craner’s fifth graders started a Go-Fund-Me page. They wrote scripts and called local grocery stores for donations. They scheduled an in-person snack drive for April 28 at a local school. A class media committee called news and radio stations to ask for help spreading the word. And a handful of bilingual students volunteered to translate the materials to make sure Spanish-speaking families knew about the snack-drive, too.
Students’ original fundraising goal was $500. They ended up raising more than $1,200 in two weeks. Target donated hundreds of dollars of snacks, enough to fill Craner’s car. Businesses like Idaho Central Credit Union and Fred Meyer also chipped in.
By Wednesday, when students hosted the snack drive, they already had well over a thousand dollars in cash and snacks.
Then community members brought another $800 worth of goods, Craner estimates.
“A bunch of 11-year-olds took this idea and ran with it,” Craner said. “It’s crazy.”
The students initially planned to provide snacks for schools in the Nampa School District, but after doing research on the highest-needs schools in the area, they split the resources between ten low-income schools in Boise and Nampa.
Students have been calling schools to ask about their “wish-lists,” and plan to go shopping on Friday to buy snacks with the funds donated online.
Kyla Seevers is looking forward to the shopping trip with her classmates — but she’s most excited about delivering the snacks to schools.
“Just to see their faces and see how they react,” Seevers said. “Knowing we get to help people and help kids in need.”