Academy of Early Learning holds first Mini March

  • Being pushed in the stroller, Academy of Early Learning student Jason Iavorschi holds a sign for the school’s Mini March for hunger, inspired by Monte’s March, on Monday. Staff photo/Melina Bourdeau

  • Jackson Gagne and Luthidia Johnson hold a sign for their class as part of the Academy for Early Learning’s first Mini March inspired by Monte’s March on Monday. Staff photo/Melina Bourdeau

  • Preschool students Ellie McIntyre, Liam McDonough, Alexis Haskins and Ava Martin from the Academy of Early Learning carry signs in their Mini March outside of the school, inspired by Monte’s March, on Monday. Staff photo/Melina Bourdeau

  • Students, teachers and staff from the Academy of Early Learning participated in a Mini March inspired by Monte’s March on Monday. Staff photo/Melina Bourdeau

Staff Writer
Published: 11/26/2019 6:23:05 PM

GREENFIELD — In the spirit of kindness and thinking of others, preschoolers, teachers and staff at the Academy of Early Learning participated in the school’s first Mini March on Monday.

Teacher Stephanie Parker said the Mini March was inspired by radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte’s 43-mile walk from Springfield to Greenfield to raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. She said she’s impressed upon students the importance of helping others, and wanted to help them participate in their own food bank fundraiser.

“We’ve spoken with the students about being hungry and how that feels,” Parker said. “We also talked about helping our neighbors and that we are all different.”

Food insecurity is something Parker has noticed throughout her career, and she hoped to make a difference through the fundraiser.

“I wanted to do a Mini March because there’s a need in the community,” she said. “There are often students who rely on lunch and breakfast at the schools.”

She said donations of both money and food from parents and guardians have been “very generous.”

“We estimate we received between 200 and 300 pounds in donations,” said Principal Tom King, who also march with the roughly 130 students. “We also had cash donations that will provide 150 meals. My hope/plan is that this becomes an annual event.”

The route went from the school, at 1 Place Terrace, down Conway Street and back, turning around at Valley Medical Group.

Preschoolers Emelen Babits and Harper Coffin reflected on the experience, and the importance of ensuring everyone has access to food.

“Food makes your body grow,” Emelen said. “One thing you can do to be kind is to give people food. When people don’t have food, they feel sad.”

Harper agreed.

“Food helps you grow up to be big,” she said. “You need it.”

Reach Melina Bourdeau at 413-772-0261, ext. 263 or mbourdeau@recorder.com.


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