Each year our school does a drive for the local food pantry. Like I do with many emails (really, does a kindergarten teacher have time to read email?) I only scanned the message. What I read was, ‘Kindergarten classes are going to collect canned goods. The goal for each kindergarten class is to collect one hundred cans.’

One hundred cans? That’s a lot of cans for a single class, but I figured, hey, it’s a goal, let’s shoot for it and do the best we can.

After communicating this with the class, and getting them on board, I reread the email and realized it was the entire kindergarten, not each single class, that was to collect one hundred cans. Ooops. Well, naturally, it was too late. The seed had been planted. My sprouts wanted to collect one hundred cans, no question about it.

Parents were dragged to the store and asked to by multiple cans. Cupboards were cleaned out. Backpacks were weighted down with one too many cans for a five-year-old to carry. We counted and tallied our cans everyday… the number grew and grew… The deadline arrived. Our final tally was one hundred six cans. Whoa.

We packed the cans in boxes and even made a sign to celebrate our love of giving back to the community. The lesson was clear, giving feels great.

Today, at bus dismissal, they announced the school total and then congratulated our class by name for collecting more than any other class… ever! You could have heard a pin drop during the announcement… something that doesn’t happen often. When the secretary finished, it sounded like she had just announced our entire class had just won a trip to Disneyworld.

Cans are powerful… and sometimes not having time to thoroughly read your email pays off.