Sometimes you get, and sometimes you give.
Students at Sandel Elementary School are paying forward the generosity that was shown to the Columbia area after the devastating October floods. On Wednesday, they loaded up hundreds of cases – thousands of bottles – of water to send to a school in Flint, Mich., where lead-contaminated water has caused a community crisis.
“It’s kids our age getting poisoned” by the water, 11-year-old Dillon Eldridge said. “If it was us, we wouldn’t like it. That’s why we’re donating.”
Sandel teacher Victoria Burkins kick-started the school’s water collection with her idea about two months ago to connect with Neithercut Elementary School in Flint.
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“(The students) loved the idea of giving back to a school, even though they’re so many hours away,” she said. “That’s what we teach the kids at the school, character traits of giving and being kind.”
Learning to give is part of a holistic education experience for the children, Burkins said.
“We’re training up good citizens,” she said.
Wednesday morning, Sandel fifth graders grinned and grimaced as they hoisted case after case of bottled water, passing them through an assembly line of arms to load up in a big rental van, which assistant principal Chad Myers and computer lab technician Reginald Sims would haul 12 hours to Flint to deliver to Neithercut Elementary.
Loading up the heavy cases was hard work, 11-year-old Anthony Oliver said, but it was worth it.
“This is what’s right,” he said.
Some 8,000 to 10,000 bottles of water nearly filled the van. The water harvest was the result of about two months of donations from students, parents and people in the community.
Principal Claudia Brooks smiled thinking of her little students lugging the heavy cases down the hallways, excited to contribute to the cause.
“School is about more than just academics,” she said. “This is an opportunity for them to give back and learn what service means.”
Brooks joined the students outside the school Wednesday morning to send off Myers and Sims with wishes for safe travels. As they waved, they chanted:
“From us, to you, this is what we do. From South Carolina, sending love to you.”
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.