Teacher Brenna Walker and Behavior Analyst Libby Revis have been teaching social skills to students at ALL Academy in Stamford. When they introduced the concept of helping others this fall, the students decided to put what they learned into action by running a food drive for the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County. The students timed their drive to help families with food insecurity prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday. The students were involved in every aspect of the drive.

To spread the word, the students produced a commercial and showed it to all the other classes (watch here). Using the app Canva, they produced flyers and posted them around the school. Brenna notes, “They’re all working on writing and they used that to do the flyer. A lot of time they’re working on having conversations, so we practiced that making the commercial.”

The students decided to offer a prize to the class that collected the most cans: a hot cocoa & PJ party. They made a school-wide announcement about the drive every day. They set up for the donated items by obtaining boxes at the store and putting them in each classroom. They counted up the items when the drive was finished.

According to Libby, “Being involved start to finish had a real impact on them. It was great to see them generalize their skills and take instruction from people at the Food Bank.”

The students were able to deliver the items to the Food Bank themselves in the school van (with a little help from a licensed driver!). They unloaded all the goods. brought them inside, and spent an hour sorting cans and stocking shelves at the pantry. They had a great time doing it. When asked about the drive, one student says with a wide smile, “Fun, with friends…me happy” and that the Food Bank is going to “give to people who need it.”

The drive collected a total of 415 items, with the winning classroom collecting 202 of those. The students made a school-wide announcement of the winner and congratulated that classroom. The winners got their hot cocoa & PJ party. The drive organizers got hot cocoa too, in addition to some great practical experience. Libby says, “They exceeded our expectations and really rose to the occasion.”

Brenna and Libby are excited to continue developing opportunities for students to hone their skills in the community. They are alternating their focus each week between practical math and social skills on their outings. This was the first time connecting with the Food Bank, and they plan to build that relationship. They have also started thinking about a neighborhood clean-up project for the spring.


Giving Back: The Stamford ALL Academy Student Food Drive