Seventeen kindergartners at one Ahwatukee Foothills school have been scrimping and saving their own money for nearly two months, raising more than $1,000, but the funds weren’t collected with a goal of a class party or pet — it was all raised to donate to Feed My Starving Children to feed children in need across the world.

The students in Michelle Willis’ kindergarten class at Magical Journey Learning Center take part in a weekly program called Lend a Hand. During that program, which is during class time like art or physical education, the kids decorated boxes and learned about Feed My Starving Children. The kids were encouraged to do extra chores around their homes or find creative ways to raise money for the organization and a special field trip was planned to visit Feed My Starving Children’s warehouse and help package meals for kids in need.

Each week as the students met together and discussed the project, the excitement grew, Willis said, and the end result was kids saving birthday money, tooth fairy money, doing extra chores and even convincing siblings to donate, and $1,050 being raised for the local non-profit.

“It’s very important for us here at Magical Journey to teach the kids to have empathy and care about people besides themselves,” Willis said. “It’s a big part of our school. We felt like this was a good opportunity for them to participate and actually save lives. They knew they wouldn’t get to meet this child, but they knew it was important.”

The 17 kids all went together with a parent to the Feed My Starving Children Warehouse on March 20. They worked a two-hour shift weighing and measuring bags, placing stickers and packing boxes.

“I liked measuring the food and making sure it was the right amount,” said Zoe Steven, a student at Magical Journey. “It was warming up my heart because I like helping people.”

Parents said it was heartwarming to see their young kids thinking of creative ideas to raise money for kids they didn’t know.

“The most amazing part of watching the kiddos participate was how proud they were of themselves,” said Elizabeth Tudor, whose son James went door to door with his sister as she sold Girl Scout cookies and asked neighbors for donations. “I think as adults we sometimes do things like this and give of our time and money always wanting to do more and not feeling like we are helping enough and feeling almost too removed from those dire situations. These kids really felt the impact of their time and money. When those numbers started coming in they clapped and hugged so proud of their accomplishment. They did not for a second think of anything but hope and happiness for the difference they had made. The kids from MJLC felt like they paid for, packed, shipped, drove to the villages, cooked, and placed that food in those people’s hands. The power they felt from giving was amazing. They truly relished in the true meaning of living simply so that others can simply live. It was a pleasure to witness.”

The purpose of the Lend a Hand program is to teach the kids that they can be powerful, even while young. The kids usually focus on things going on in their own community for simple ways to lend a hand. This year they’ve handed out candy canes to people at Safeway and have written cards to class member’s families who’ve been sick or had a new baby.

For more information on Magical Journey Learning Center, visit

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