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New Berlin sixth-graders make sandwiches for Milwaukee homeless

Nick Zoccoli (front) and Julia Hintz assemble and bag sandwiches in Kelli Rado's sixth grade class on Nov. 20 for one of 100 sandwiches destined for the Guest House at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.

Nick Zoccoli (front) and Julia Hintz assemble and bag sandwiches in Kelli Rado's sixth grade class on Nov. 20 for one of 100 sandwiches destined for the Guest House at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Nov. 27, 2012

New Berlin - The mayo flowed and ham and turkey were dealt out onto slices of bread like cards as Elmwood Elementary School sixth-graders made sandwiches for the homeless.

Their project took place Nov. 20, two days before the youngsters themselves would enjoy the bounty of Thanksgiving.

The kids in Kelli Rado's class made 100 sandwiches that went to the Guest House of Milwaukee, 1216 N. 13th St., for men.

The sandwiches weren't for Thanksgiving, though.

Instead, the sandwiches provided lunch to those staying in the shelter but who have to leave during the day. The men known as "guests" might otherwise have had nothing to eat during the holiday time of plenty, said Renee Pasciak, Guest House corporate and events manager.

She did note, however, that they never turn away someone who comes to the door needing food. So those sandwiches help them fulfill their mission.

"They really mean a lot," Pasciak said of the donated sandwiches.

The project meant a lot to the kids, too.

"We should be thankful and I thought it would be good to help people less fortunate," said 11-year-old Kya Emerson, whose mother Jana came up with the Guest House idea.

It was a jolly and noisy sandwich-making scene that day. Kya decided it was more fun making sandwiches at school than at home.

"It's more fun making it with your friends, and for a reason," the youngster said. "I was happy, because I was helping out people who needed it."

The fact that there is still need during a time of plenty was the impetus, Jana Emerson said.

Thanksgiving is a time to be mindful of sharing, of giving back and being thankful, she said. She added that this kind of project helps kids see what that looks like in action.

The project combined things the school stresses - teamwork, giving back to the community and engaging all the kids, Emerson said.

It grew out of the Guest House's greatest need this time of year: sandwiches.

But the children didn't stop with sandwiches. They also created greeting cards, some conveying wishes for a happy Thanksgiving and others expressing congratulations to men who had reached a milestone in their progress toward self-sufficiency.

Rado said she liked the idea because it widened students' horizons.

"The purpose of the project was to bring awareness of various community needs outside of our Elmwood walls," she said. "As they grow, and move to different communities my hope is that they exhibit charity and thoughtfulness."

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