Students at Peabody’s McCarthy School Donate Thousands of Items to People in Need

April 26, 2022

Superintendent Josh Vadala is pleased to share that third- and fourth-grade students from McCarthy School worked together to donate key supplies to Citizens Inn’s food pantry, Haven From Hunger.

Students in teacher Jill Houlden’s classroom were challenged to connect their learning to a sense of giving, by having a donation to Haven From Hunger made in their name when they achieved learning goals in class. Additionally, Coffee Bean Club — advised by teacher Jane O’Brien — led an effort to collect donations of hats and gloves, childrens’ shampoo, cereal and childrens’ snacks. In all, the club collected over a dozen boxes of items to donate.

McCarthy School third-graders donated 1,300 diapers to Haven From Hunger after their teacher, Jill Houlden, developed a program that tied their academic success to raising donations. The school’s Coffee Bean Club, advised by teacher Jane O’Brien, also donated a variety of items. (Courtesy Photo Peabody Public Schools)

The Coffee Bean Club was founded by O’Brien as a service-focused organization for students, based on the book by the same name. The book emphasizes the way in which coffee beans respond to being placed in hot water by making the water into something better — coffee — rather than softening the way a carrot does, or hardening against its surroundings in the way eggs do. The book and club, according to O’Brien, are designed to teach kids about how to help others, show resiliency, confront difficult situations and work within their community.

For her classroom project, Houlden solicited donations of diapers from family and friends. Through their academic success, bolstered by the support of community members, students in Houlden’s class donated 1,300 diapers.

Additionally, Rick Sandler, a Peabody High School graduate and former Peabody Municipal Light Plant employee, donated $1,000 to Haven From Hunger on behalf of McCarthy students.

“Ms. O’Brien and Ms. Houlden have worked incredibly hard to inspire their students and instill a spirit of giving, which was on display through these efforts,” Superintendent Vadala said. “Forging a connection between personal learning goals and community giving is equal parts innovative and inspirational, and it will directly benefit people in our community who are in need of a helping hand.”

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