FOSSTON, Minn. Magelssen Elementary students in Fosston learned about the domino effect that kindness can have on a community via a food drive that collected 980 boxes of cereal.

The school’s 336 students not only witnessed generosity through the collection of more than double the number of boxes they originally had hoped to gather, but on Thursday, March 25, they also got to watch the boxes — which they had lined up in a row — fall one-by-one, like dominoes.

The elementary school’s 18-member Student Leaders organization wanted to spearhead a project in March that focused on the Loaves and Fishes Food Shelf in Fosston. March is Minnesota Food Share month, said Amanda Wiener, a Magelssen Elementary School speech and language pathologist who advises Student Leaders, made up of fourth- through sixth-grade students.

Conversations with volunteers at Loaves and Fishes Food Shelf indicated that the need for food has increased in the community during the past year of the pandemic, Wiener said.

The student leaders chose to donate cereal to the food shelf because of its universal appeal and nutritional value. Cereal, which can cost more than $5 a box, also is something that some families cannot afford. It will be appreciated by people who use the food shelf, she said.

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Donating to the food shelf carries out the mission of Student Leaders, which is to spread kindness and lead by example in their school, neighborhoods and community, Wiener said. For example, during a project earlier this school year, Student Leaders collected 2,803 pairs of new socks, which they donated to the food shelf and to Polk County Social Services.

Wiener’s goal was to collect from 300 to 500 boxes of cereal during the two-week Student Leader food drive project. She was overwhelmed that the final count was 980.

Sixth-grade Magelssen Elementary School students Nelson Manecke and Parker Nelson carry boxes of cereal to the school lunchroom after a domino  activity. (Photo: Ann Bailey)
Sixth-grade Magelssen Elementary School students Nelson Manecke and Parker Nelson carry boxes of cereal to the school lunchroom after a domino activity. (Photo: Ann Bailey)

“It was a great experience," said Dan Boushee, Magelssen Elementary School principal. “Not just for our Student Leaders, but all of them. I’m proud that they are blessing our community.”

And then came Thursday's "domino" event. Nearly 1,000 boxes of cereal were spaced from 6 inches to a foot apart, depending on their size, stretching 800 feet down a hallway inside the elementary school. The Student Leaders patterned the domino pattern after a video they had watched of a similar event in Michigan.

As the boxes fell, students lined the school hallways, clapping and cheering. After the last box tipped, students picked up the boxes and carried them to the school lunchroom. They will be stored there until Monday, March 29, when they will be loaded and delivered on a school bus to the Loaves and Fishes Food Shelf.

The food shelf volunteers are looking forward to the arrival of the cereal, Wiener said.

“They’re just overjoyed,’ she said.