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Investing in Innovation & Inspiration

Connie Valdez 

Hungry to share, care

By Robin Harkey

When my children were little, one of my absolute favorite things to do with them was to read. Cuddled up on the couch, floor or bedroom, we would sit together for hours sifting through a mountain of literary adventures to look for another story to devour.

Out of the books, we were hungry to read; “Stone Soup” was at the top of the menu. In the story, a hungry traveler came upon a village filled with people who had food to share but were hesitant.

To get the villagers to give, the traveler brought out a large pot then filled it with water and a stone to make stone soup. The traveler said he would be happy to share his delicious creation, but it would need more depth, more ingredients. Being creatures of hunger, one by one, the villagers emerged from their houses to drop in first a potato, then a carrot, turnips, beans, chicken and broth, salt then pepper. After some time of simmering, the traveler removes the stone, and together they enjoy the savory soup.

The moral of the story is that we all have something to share, and many times, we need others to help us see that we can. When we are generous, even small, seemingly insignificant gifts can fuel the hearts and minds of dreams here in our community. One such dream is for that of Shields Elementary kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Sandra Caltzonzin.

Sandra’s dream was fully funded by the Education Foundation back in August of 2019. Being a gardener at heart, Sandra describes how “now is a time when our families need fresh veggies in their diet and may not have the funds to purchase them.”

She started her project last semester using recycled lumber from her old garden at F.W. Gross to make the most of her grant funding. From those humble three planters, her garden grew to eight this semester as a result of her husband’s handy construction skills. With all this space, she has a bountiful harvest in the making to include zucchini, potatoes, squash, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and okra.

In late April, parent Connie Valdez was her first recipient of produce. Connie shared, “We used the squash in chicken soup and the potatoes for mashed potatoes. It feels good knowing that the children planted what we are eating.

It’s also wonderful that the Foundation awarded the money to Mrs. Caltzonzin. We are grateful to her for doing this and teaching the children about gardening.”

Many more families are in line to receive these veggies. And with Mrs. Caltzonzin’s visits to the school garden twice or more per week to water, fertilize and pick, these families will continue to enjoy all this fresh nutrition.

Sandra anticipates the harvest to continue over the summer months, too.

So, are you hungry to share? We are, and we do. And with your help, we still can.