Sauers sets record with cereal box collection for local food pantries


St. John’s Sauers Lutheran School proves a small school can do big things.

That’s especially true with collecting cereal boxes.

This was the fifth year for the rural Seymour school to have students bring in boxes of cereal throughout January for a project culminating with National Lutheran Schools Week at the end of the month.

At the end of the school day Friday, students and staff gathered in the gymnasium, where cereal boxes were lined on the gymnasium floor.

Principal Kasee Lambring announced the total each class collected, ending with the one that brought in the most — third and fourth grade.

She also shared it was a record year with 1,490 total boxes, which broke the previous record of 1,048 from two years ago.

After the exciting news was announced, eighth-grader Trey Sweany pulled on a rope tied to a cone that knocked into a box of cereal, which created a domino effect around the whole gym.

In about a minute, all of the boxes were knocked over.

Then all of the school’s students — 115 in preschool through eighth grade — helped pick up the boxes so they could be delivered to Community Provisions of Jackson County and Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry in Seymour.

Lambring said it continues to be a great service project. Students also collected items for Pregnancy Care Centers of South Central Indiana that were put together by Lutheran students from around the county, including St. John’s, on Friday at Trinity Lutheran High School in Seymour.

“I don’t really know what started it,” she said of the cereal project. “Probably at that time, maybe the food pantries were in need of food and then it was just something that we continued year after year, and every year, we try to collect more than we did the previous year.”

The school shared information with parents about the cereal drive.

“They’ve just been trickling in this whole month, but it’s funny because this last week, there’s a real push because it’s like a competition between the classrooms which one has the most,” Lambring said. “Even (Friday) morning, we had a dad’s breakfast and you should have seen all of the dads bringing in boxes of cereal on the last day. We were counting up until we left this morning to go on our field trip.”

She said it’s great to see everyone embrace the project.

“It’s like all of the kids see the good, they see the need and they understand it. It’s really exciting,” she said. “Every quarter, we have a chapel offering or something that we focus on where we’re trying to make a difference in someone else’s life or make a difference in the community. I feel like at such a young age, we instill that in them, and then they will grow up and want to just always give back.”

The third- and fourth-graders brought in 415 cereal boxes. The fifth- and sixth-graders were next with 398, followed by 268 for seventh and eighth grade, 204 for first and second grade, 117 for preschool and 88 for kindergarten.

Lisa Kloeker, the third and fourth grade teacher, said it was great to see her students’ enthusiasm with the project.

“They were very excited this year because we could help others,” she said. “I think it’s great to see the kids caring for others, to help others in our community.”

This is only her second school year at St. John’s, and Kloeker said her class won last year, too.

“They get into it so much,” she said. “I think it’s a competition, and then also helping.”

Third-grader Jackson Schepman contributed 120 boxes of cereal. He said he collected them throughout the month, and it was fun to see how many the school brought in overall.

“It was just crazy to see all of those boxes,” he said.

Fellow third-grader Ellie Johnson brought in 70 boxes.

“My dad went to the store this morning and brought them,” she said, noting it felt really good to help the two local food pantries.

Looking to the future, Lambring said she sees the project continuing each January.

”I would say so, until something bigger and better comes around,” she said. “Every year, it’s always like that seventh and eighth grade class, they want to make it a better design than what they did the year before.”

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