Family hopes to provide cereal to 4,000 kids
Dec 04, 2019 11:02AM
By Jet Burnham
What started as a family project became a communitywide operation. (Photo courtesy of Shauna Worthington.)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Last Thanksgiving, Principal Shauna Worthington wondered aloud if it would possible to send each of her students home for the winter break with a box of cereal to ensure that they would have something to eat. Her family volunteered to help her try to collect the 650 boxes of cereal she would need to make that dream a reality.
“My family really ran with that — they were really excited,” Worthington said.
Word spread, and local and national news picked up the story. Within two weeks, more than 2,700 boxes of cereal had been donated, wrapped and delivered to Worthington’s students at Oquirrh Elementary and to two additional West Jordan elementary schools.
Organized and run by Worthington and her family—her parents, her five siblings and their families—her simple idea has grown into The Cereal Project.
“It was really cool to just see my family step up and provide really visible support to me — we care about you, we care about your kids, and we want to help,” Worthington said.
Her sister, Amy Worthington, said that is just what their family does for each other.
“Our parents have raised us with this mentality that we are built-in best friends for life,” she said. “I feel really lucky. We all are really good to help each other when we need it.” Besides, the planning meetings are a good excuse to meet for breakfast together.
Worthington said her family has been a great support during her first years as a principal.
“It's been fun to watch her just jump in because it's something she's passionate about and cares about,” Amy said of her sister. “She wants to do well for the kids, so she's just committed. It has taken a lot of courage and willingness to do the hard work to be as good as she is.”
Worthington learned from some of the best principals in the district while working as an assistant principal at six different schools before she became principal at Oquirrh Elementary last year. She immediately looked for opportunities at her school to help students, just as her mentors had.
“The cereal project kind of started as a visible way of helping and gave us some momentum,” she said. “This is the fun part of my job—to start new things and do old things better.”
This year, The Cereal Project is aiming to reach even more kids.
“We want to provide a box for every kid at all seven Title 1 schools [in Jordan School District], so we're hopeful it'll be about 4,000 boxes,” Worthington said. A large portion of students at Title 1 schools depend on free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs. The Cereal Project provides them with cereal they can eat during the two weeks of winter break. Any surplus cereal will be donated to local Principal’s Pantries.
Amy credits the growth and popularity of The Cereal Project to the fact that it is such an easy way for people to make a big difference in children’s lives.
“You see all of the things that these kids are going through, and you think a box of cereal won’t make that big of a difference,” she said. “But for them to have something that is theirs, that meets a need that they have but also allows them to feel special and seen and cared for is just so fun.”
Worthington loves that kids can easily help with the project by picking out a box of cereal they know another child will like.
“It's a great way to get kids involved and give them that opportunity,” she said. “[Last year], we had kids helping wrap and helping count boxes and label boxes—they were the most enthusiastic participants.”
How to help:
TheCerealProject.org website has information about how individuals, families and groups can help:
Donate Money: Venmo a donation to @thecerealproject.
Host a Cereal Drive: Visit www.thecerealproject.org/host-a-drive for details.
Donate Cereal: Donate 10-20 ounce boxes of cereal, any flavor.
Drop-off hours: Ship cereal to Oquirrh Elementary, 7165 South Paddington Road West Jordan, UT 84084 or drop it off at the school on Friday, Dec. 13 between 4 and 7 p.m. or Saturday, Dec. 14 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Donate wrapping supplies: The Cereal Project 2019 wishlist of supplies can be found on amazon.com.
Help wrap: A Wrapping Party will be held Dec. 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Oquirrh Elementary, 7165 South Paddington Road (3285 West).