Students at Bryan Elementary donated proceeds from their project to helping a former student help family in Guatemala.
A group of fifth graders at Bryan Elementary are reshaping lives across the globe.
Students in Karen Beck’s gifted class created a Smart Snack that they sell at school each Friday. The snack mix is comprised of corn flakes, banana chips, pretzels, dark chocolate chips and a sourced “interesting fact” for $1.25. It helped provide families in Guatemala with a life-altering gift.
Emily Hurlburt, a former student of Beck, went on a trip to Guatemala with her global leadership class
from Hillsborough Community College to build stoves among different villages with Masons on a Mission. Each stove costs $150 to build and she reached out to her former teachers for assistance prior to going.
Beck said when her students found out about Hurlburt’s goal they decided to adopt her as their project and donated the proceeds from their Smart Snack to buy a stove.
“The purpose of this project was to teach us how to run a business, use social skills and handle money,” Madison Roney, one of the students, said. “It’s cool because it’s not just one family that uses the stove. It can help lots of people.”
Kevin Flores, another student, said cooking over open fires was causing health problems in some of the women in Guatemala. The stove was safer and helped them breathe in less smoke. After learning what one stove could do for a village Flores said they immediately started to get to work on selling the healthy snacks to their classmates and teachers.
They created 10 posters, which were hung throughout the school and an announcement was made each Friday that the snacks would be coming around. At first, the students had to learn how to balance a budget and how much they needed to charge for each bag to make a profit off the supplies they bought.
Eventually, they broke even and soon they were regularly making a profit. This allowed them to donate to Hurlburt before she left for the trip on her Spring Break.
“We’re not keeping the money, we want to help others,” Valerie Serratos, one of the students, said. “We’re a nonprofit and it’s important to us that we help someone else.”
Hurlburt said she was thrilled to see students from her former class support her trip. Several teachers and administrators also sponsored ovens.
“Though they weren’t physically there for the trip, they were definitely there with me because they built that stove, they were the reason it was happening,” Hurlburt said. “I thought it would be a great reminder to them that anything is possible and there’s nothing they can’t do.”
One thing that both Hurlburt and the students loved about the Masons on a Mission project is it partners with the local families for the build. Families interested in having a stove of their own pay 10% of the total cost so they have a claim to the item.
“It’s not like we’re going into people’s countries and giving them what they don’t want,” Hurlburt said. “We’re not pushing American things on these families. They let us know if they want a stove and we help them build one. Every day we went to a family, a different home and built a stove.”
Hurlburt grew up surrounded by construction as her father is a carpenter. Using the rudimentary knowledge she possessed she said she had no difficulty building the “pizza oven” style appliances on the trip.
Upon returning she tried to convey her appreciation
to the students and wrote them a letter explaining how the stoves were changing lives an ocean away. She said she tried to talk a lot about the families she worked with so the students would hopefully understand that people aren’t really different from each other. At everyone’s core they simply “crave love and friendship.”
She said regardless of our upbringing the best language one can ever speak is love and by serving others they were slowly making the world a better place. The students poured over her letter and are already talking about ways to improve their sales so they can give more next time around.
“It’s pretty amazing that fifth graders can change the world,” Beck said.