With encouragement from their teacher, three fourth-graders at Jackson Elementary School recently worked to help others in their community and beyond in a number of ways.

Jackson Elementary teacher Brittany Hennigan said Brandon Ballard, Howard Davis and Dondré Weatherspoon collected items throughout the Lenten season to share with the homeless, hungry and those in need.

The boys did more than collect food, however: They donated five large bags of secondhand clothes for those in need in East Feliciana Parish, collected four boxes of food for the Jackson food pantry, Helping in His Name, and gathered a box of personal hygiene items to give to a shelter for human trafficking victims.

“The project was sparked during a classroom discussion about the homeless in our community, so I decided to use the discussion as a further learning experience and challenged the students to come up with ideas and ways they could help,” Hennigan said. “These three boys immediately began listing items that could be donated to change the lives of those in need.”

Brandon, Howard and Dondré got creative by not limiting their efforts to collecting canned goods and by enlisting the help of their classmates to host a clothes, food and toiletries drive, Hennigan said.

“I placed the sole responsibility of the project on their collective shoulders,” Hennigan said.

The boys collaborated in writing a letter to other JES students and teachers as well as to parents, stressing the significance of the drives and listing the items they needed to collect.

“I was impressed with the consideration and creativity shown by these boys and then watched as the donations began pouring in,” Hennigan said. “It was gratifying to see the three of them working together as well as with their classmates in the effort.”

“I was happy we could do this to help other people,” Ballard said.