Deputies help Pocopson ‘Kids with Hearts’

One of the dozens of enthusiastic students at the Chester County Family Academy smiled broadly before delivering his assessment of an outreach by Pocopson Elementary School’s Kids with Heart Club.

“This is almost like Christmas, but with food,” he said exuberantly as he surveyed the sea of red grocery bags in the entranceway of the K-2 charter school.

The 45 members of the Pocopson club, created to foster kindness, compassion, and service to others, specialize in living up to the club’s mantra: “Kindness is the new cool.”

For the second year in a row, they partnered with the Chester County Sheriff’s Office to transport healthful food items to the Chester County Family Academy. Lt. Harry McKinney, accompanied by K-9 Melody, Deputy Sheriff Brian Carr, and Deputy Sheriff Matthew Cataudella assisted with the effort.

Janis Michels, one of the five parents who oversee the club, explained that the initiative is part of the “Good-for-You Groceries” project. It is sponsored by a national nonprofit, Heaven on Earth NOW.

Michels said the inaugural program was so well-received at both schools that the organizers doubled the output this year so that all 95 students at the charter school would take home a bag of nutritious food items. Also different this year: Three of the club’s supervisors – Michels, Eileen Day, and Tracy Wahl – were able to participate in the transport and delivery.

Chester County Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh, who serves on the board of the Chester County Family Academy, said she was delighted to continue the partnership. She described last year’s interaction between the two groups of special children as heart-warming.

“Not only do I hope this bond will last, but I also hope the Sheriff’s Office can always contribute to making it happen,” she said. “We can all benefit by spreading kindness. This is a win for everyone.”

After arriving at CCFA on Monday, Oct. 15, the Pocopson Elementary parents got to meet all of the K-2 students and teachers as well as Susan Flynn, the academy’s chief executive officer. CCFA was founded in 1997 to carry out the vision of local philanthropists Dick and Sheila Sanford “to make a difference in the lives of children.”  English is a second language for most of the families, who value education but struggle financially, Flynn said.

Flynn took the visitors to each of the school’s four classes, where Michels explained the club’s mission. She said the bags’ contents were carefully purchased and collated last week by the club’s members, who are third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders. Each bag also contained a hand-written note to its recipient from one of the Pocopson students.

During the tour, the gleeful CCFA students repeatedly expressed thanks to the club’s organizers, and one class even treated the guests to a song they were learning: “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”

Michels said she was confident that her awestruck reaction to the performance was shared by her colleagues.

“We’re the ones who just got a gift,” she said. The other parents nodded in agreement.



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