When you ask first grade students to write letters about what they want, you can expect a lot of cute letters asking for puppies, Legos, and beach trips. But one Ridgefield first grader at Union Ridge Elementary School made a surprising request. Zuri Jones-Morales asked if she could help the homeless. And Rosauers grocery store in Ridgefield is helping make that a reality.
Zuri’s first grade teacher, Shandel Oderman, asked her students to write persuasive letters that asked for something they wanted. When the students turned the letters in, Oderman was surprised to read this one from Zuri.
“Dear Mom and Dad, I want to help the homeless because I think it is right to help all the homeless. You may say no because it cost a lot of money. I promise to start a business and help a lot of people. Remember when I donated my toys? I will feel proud of myself when I can help the homeless. Love, Zuri”
First grader Zuri Jones-Morales with her letter that inspired a food drive at Rosauers. PHOTO CREDIT: Shanel Jones
The display at Rosauers includes information about Zuri's project to help those in need. PHOTO CREDIT: Samantha Bolton
Oderman thought maybe she could help Zuri on her path toward this goal. She and her student teacher, Brianna Lewellen, had already planned a community display of class letters to recognize the students’ hard work. So the teachers brought the letter to Rosauers and asked if they might be able to help. Rosauers immediately agreed to sponsor a food drive for the Ridgefield Family Resource Center and to display the students’ letters in their food court.
Rosauers shoppers can purchase a grocery gift card at checkout to donate to the Ridgefield Family Resource Center. They will be collecting the donations as long as the letter display is up. All of the donations will go directly toward purchasing food and supplies for those in need.
Zuri’s mother, Shanel Jones, wasn’t surprised to read Zuri’s letter. “She has always been a helper and loves to lead,” she explained. “I’ve tried to teach all my kiddos that no matter what we’re going through, there is always someone else that is going through much more.” Jones was proud to take Zuri to Rosauers so she could purchase the very first donated gift card.
In addition to her own donation, Zuri was very excited that her letter might inspire others to help. “I just knew that it was right,” she said. “It is right to help others that are homeless because they might be freezing and starving. We should always help others.” Now the little girl with the big heart will be able to make a difference for many Ridgefield families in need.
Donations can also be mailed directly to the Ridgefield Family Resource Center by making a check out to the Ridgefield School District with RFRC/Zuri’s Project on the memo line. Mail checks to RFRC, 510 Pioneer Street, Ridgefield, WA 98642.
Shandel Oderman's first grade class wrote many persuasive letters that the students are proud to see displayed at Rosauers. PHOTO CREDIT: Samantha Bolton