Last week, Room 711 at Voy Spears Elementary School was filled from wall to wall, and floor to ceiling, with 12,065 non-perishable food items that students collected during Blue Springs Community Unity Week.
Monday afternoon, representatives from the Community Services League’s office in Blue Springs visited the elementary school to pick up the remaining 2,000 food items, which bring the school’s total to more than 14,000.
Watching all the action was a wide-eyed, philanthropic kindergartner, Leilani Elliott, whose family donated more than 3,500 items.
“I don’t want to cry, but I can’t wait to meet this young lady,” said Blue Springs CSL site manager Melodie Chrisman, who brought Leilani some flowers and candy. “When she found out that people she might know, and people in her community were hungry, she did something about it – and she’s in kindergarten.”
Leilani’s mother, Aixa, said her daughter came home from school with a special message.
“Leilani told me that people in Blue Springs were hungry,” Aixa said, as she held Leilani’s 4-year-old sister Tori. “She said that made her sad and she wanted to do something about it.”
Leilani nodded in agreement with her mother and added, “I didn’t want anyone to be hungry, so I gave all my birthday money to my mom to buy food for the hungry families.”
Leilani had just celebrated her sixth birthday, and she gave more than $100 to her mother, but that was just the beginning.
“She wanted me to call her friends’ moms and dads, then she wanted me to call my friends,” Axia said. “So I called them, and Leilani talked to them and told them about all the hungry people she wanted to help.”
“I am from New York, and I called a lot of friends in New York, and in a day or so, we started getting checks in the mail.”
The final count was more than $500, which Axia used to buy boxes of food for the drive.”
Principal Nick Goos grins as he recalls the first phone call he received from Axia.
“We sent out a flyer and teachers sent out e-mails on the Friday before Community Unity Week,” Goos explained, “and on Monday I get a call from Mrs. Elliott. She was in the driveway in front of the school and asked us to bring out a cart.”
“We did – and it was the first of many trips we made to her car to bring in all the items they donated during the week. It was pretty amazing.”
Voy Spears wound up setting a record for one school with the 14,000 total items and the school district set a record with more than 66,500 donated items.
“I know that Leilani and her family had a lot to do with the success of our drive,” Goos said, “and the spirit of giving took over every classroom in our school. It was just amazing. I am so proud of everyone who was involved.
“I’m proud of Leilani and her family, I’m proud of our school and I’m proud of our district. Our kids are learning values that will last a lifetime.”