Enough for Everybody

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For such little kids, they looked very serious.
I was telling my third graders about a lady talking on the radio. This lady had lost her job, and run out of money for groceries. Only thing left was a can of soup. She gave the soup to her two kids, and she didn't eat that day at all. Finally, she found out the San Francisco food bank could help.
The kids listened thoughtfully, digesting the grim reality there are hungry people, not in those faraway lands they read about, but right here. "Can we help the lady?" they asked?
Yes, I told them, they can help the lady.
They can help because my school is one of the 41 San Francisco schools collecting food for the food bank this holiday season. Our school corridors, usually lined with colorful crayon art, are filled instead with donation barrels. And every morning, the barrels are more full, as kids as young as kindergarteners, standing on tippy toes to reach over the side, drop in food. Some are carrying grocery sacks almost as big as they are -- cans of chili, tuna, macaroni and cheese, into the barrel, like Santa down a chimney. 
One first grader spent his whole piggy bank -- twenty dollars -- birthday money from his grandparents. He asked his mom to take him to the grocery, and used his life savings to buy food for the donation barrel.
Christmas is coming, and you can feel it at school.
You can see it in crafts the kids are making -- cardboard stars and painted ornaments. And you can hear it in the sound of kids singing carols  -- "jingle all the way" drifts through hallways, echoing off those overflowing food barrels that have been filled by hundreds of little hands, as energetic as Santa's elves. 
These are hard times, and some are hungry this holiday. But watching children literally pitching in to help, I suddenly feel hopeful about the future. I'm so proud of these kids' generous spirits, my heart is as overflowing as those donation barrels. The students may be young, but it seems to me they understand what Christmas is really about.
As one tiny girl said, dropping cans into the barrel, "If we all share, everybody will have enough."
With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.