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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Shaping the future: Two Canyon View Elementary boys’ let their food donations do the talking

Feb 29, 2024 01:43PM ● By Julie Slama

Canyon View fourth-grader Benjamin Adams has distributed jars around his school to collect soda pop tabs to donate to the Ronald McDonald House. 

Fifth-grader Grant Mucha organized and led Canyon View Elementary in a food drive for those in need during Super Bowl week. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

In the days preceding the Super Bowl, Canyon View students were aligned with experts in leaning toward the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Kansas City Chiefs.

However, these kindergartners through fifth graders were letting their food donations do their talking.

For the second year, fifth-grader Grant Mucha, along with his family and friends, decorated and set up boxes labeled with each team’s name and colors. Students and staff could bring in their nonperishable donations to vote for their favorite team.

“It’s pretty close, but eyeballing it, the 49ers are ahead by a little bit,” said the San Francisco fan. “Each can or item gets one vote, and then the team with the most votes wins.”

Last year, Canyon View students overwhelmingly picked the Philadelphia Eagles over the Chiefs, by two-to-one donations. 

“It’s OK that we got it wrong. All the food helped The Road Home shelter kids in Midvale,” he said about more than 250 donated items.

Grant got the idea to hold a school food drive after donating jackets with his church to the homeless shelter in winter 2022.

“I thought, ‘What could I do more to help?’ I am lucky enough to have a good family where I am supported, and I go to a good school with good friends. But everyone doesn’t have that, and I want to help everybody have that,” he said. “I thought maybe the next person can step up to help, but it wasn’t happening. I realized if I want to make a big change, the first step starts with me. I want to make the world a better place. I’ve always liked to make people happy because everyone deserves to be happy.”

So, Grant talked to his mother about helping more; she suggested donating food. His family previously had helped with the USANA Foundation’s Kids Eat program, so he was familiar with the need of helping provide food to those in need.

“I thought about it a lot that night, and then it came on my mind that we should do something with the Super Bowl. Last year, we made posters and put out the boxes. It worked out so well last year, I wanted to do it again this year,” he said.

Grant, who donated macaroni and cheese and ramen, added that he would like his school to donate 300 items this year. 

“It would be nice because that’s more food than last year and that means more can be shared with those who need it,” he said, adding that it wasn’t hard to give up some of his favorite foods because “others need it more than I do.”

Last year, he said his family, along with friends, loaded up the car, then dropped off the food where they were met by staff members.

“We filled up these two big carts and a little bit into a third. It was a lot. They were just really happy,” he said. “I hope those kids can have a full belly when they’re going to school. Just having a full belly in general makes your life so much happier and better. I’m excited to help them out, but it’s not just me doing this. I could not take this on by myself. I have six amazing friends and my little brother and sister and parents who helped me—and the whole school generously is making donations.”

Grant isn’t the only Canyon View student who is aiming to make a difference. 

Growing up, fourth-grader Benjamin Adams noticed his aunt collecting pop tabs.

“We’d go swim at her pool and every time, she showed us big bags full of that pop tabs,” he said. “It’s really cool to see because when you know what they’re going toward, it’s nice to help people a little at the Ronald McDonald House.”

This school year, Benjamin and his mother got jars, labeled them and put in each classroom as well as the office and faculty room. At the end of the school year, he will donate them to the Ronald McDonald House of the Intermountain Area, where the tabs will be recycled, and proceeds are earmarked for helping care for families staying at the house while their critically ill children undergo hospital treatment.

“I try to put myself in their place for a sec. I know it would be hard if you don’t have enough money to stay in a hotel because you have to pay for your kid to be in the hospital,” he said, adding that he looks for every opportunity to add tabs to the collection, even once collecting a bunch of tabs off cans at a wedding so he could donate those. “That was a huge donation I could make, but other kids are donating a lot too.”

Every month, Benjamin weighs the number of donated tabs.

“My mom and I go and collect them and whichever class has the most, in weight, gets a little prize. At the end of the year, we’re going to have ice cream for the winners because I thought it might be fun, and it would motivate everyone,” he said. “When you see your class may only have gotten eight ounces, it can feel like practically nothing. But when you see how many add up when all the classes get eight ounces, it’s so many more than you think. It’s cool to see how many there are and how you’re doing this little thing that benefit kids’ families who need the help. The whole school has been collecting them and bringing them from home. Everyone knows it’s helping people.”

Canyon View Principal Kierstin Draper said these two aren’t the only students who are stepping up to serve the community. Within the school, she has students who help with mixed recycling, trying to make the world not only better, but greener.

“These are individual kids who are taking it on their own, wanting to step up and help their community,” she said. “They’re making amazing things happen.” λ