Poverty - Leonard Middle School: SSC 2015

Subject: Poverty, Hunger, Homelessness
Themes: Community Development Food & Health Homeless Rights Young Activists 21st Century
Age groups: Elementary School Middle School
Resource type: Video

Samantha Smith Challenge

J. A. Leonard Middle School

Fox Team – Grade 8

Scroll Down To See the Video!

The Issue: Poverty

The Question: What is it like to be in poverty and what can we do about it?

Community Partners and Stakeholders: Penquis CAP, Former Peace Corps Workers, Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, Manna Ministries, Seeds of Hope, Old Town Police Department, Crossroads Food Pantry

Facts Learned that Influenced Your Thinking:

People in poverty are

  • the same as everyone else
  • not to blame
  • not more likely than the general population to be alcoholics, drug addicts, or criminals
  • sometimes made villains and/or scapegoats.

Some people have way more than they need (especially the top1%) and it squeezes what's left for the rest of us.

People in poverty have a different perspective about food, education, entertainment—more survival than choice.

Poverty looks different internationally.

Plan of Action:

  • Insulate a house in the community
  • Sort, organize, and/or distribute food at Manna and Seeds of Hope
  • Cook and serve lunch at Bangor Area Homeless Shelter
  • Create a newspaper about poverty and other community issues
  • Write letters to editors, legislators, and governor

Project Results:

  • We completed all the above activities, which helped our community.
  • Students gained a better understanding about poverty and became advocates for people in poverty.
  • Students learned not to judge, especially without all the information.
  • Students gained empathy for others.
  • Students learned they can make a difference.

Ongoing support needed:

For next year, it would be great to have better video equipment, especially microphones.


Humam Al-Fdeilat Olivia Albert KyraArmitage

Danielle Baker Brian Barnaby Nick Baron

Abby Brackett Faith Bromiley Addy Chabe

Alex Chapman Ryan Chubbuck Dante Crenshaw

Kaitlyn Dunham Emily Dunlap James Emery

Isaac Epp Zach Fostun Ana Hamilton

Emma Hargreaves Zach Ireland Meaghan Kelley

Maura Kelly Abby Ketch Emily Ketch

Hunter Lee Logan Lilly Brittany Madden

Anna Muscatelle Nick Oechslie Demetrius Porter

Adam Regan Erin Snyder Brandi Swoboda

Hannah Talcove Kallie Thompson Libby Trefts

Levi Trefts Charlie Turner Destiny Webber

Teachers: Gert Nesin and Jay Meigs McDonald

Names of people who made the video:

Zach Fostun Ryan Chubbuck Abby Ketch

Emily Ketch Demetrius Porter Adam Regan

Libby Trefts Hannah Talcove Levi Trefts

Student quotations about poverty:

  • "I learned how important it is to help people living in poverty, and how serious it is. Also, I learned that stereotypes needed to be broken, and how in my eyes they were broken."
  • "Just by looking at someone, it doesn't say who they truly are."
  • "Poverty isn't just one thing. Poverty has many faces, many causes, and many solutions."
  • "Not only adults can help with poverty. Students can, too."
  • "People in poverty are pretty much just like regular people, just without money."

Quotations about what students learned through doing this:

  • "I can help people in poverty and that I can make a difference."
  • "I am more caring than I thought."
  • "I felt honored to be helping people and made me feel good as a person."
  • "I learned that I care about people in poverty, and ending poverty a lot more than I thought."
  • "How easy it is to make a difference in someone's life."
  • "I learned to not judge anybody by how they look…and that I do judge people sometimes. But I need to stop because I don't know what they are going through or who they are."
  • "I always have room to grow. I had thought about poverty as something very other than myself, something that didn't really affect me. Turns out it's not, and the kind of thinking I used to have was actually part of the problem because it prevented us from finding solutions."
  • "It is okay to help people that need it, without thinking you're doing the right thing or being judged for wanting to help with people who need it."
  • "I actually want to help people in poverty and that a lot of these people are like me."
  • "These people are good people. That's the simple truth of it all."

Quotations about doing a service learning project, like the Samantha Smith Challenge:

  • "It tugs at the heart strings…but is definitely something worth doing."
  • "Make sure what you do is important to you, because you will learn more."
  • "It is so worth it. It makes you feel good while also giving back to the community."
  • "Every little thing makes a difference."
  • "Don't go in with a certain mindset."
  • "Classes need to interact with people, because everyone is different and that means they have different ways of dealing with issues. They need to talk to people because people are the ones who are affected and people are the ones who will solve the problems."
  • "Getting involved is definitely worth it because you will learn a lot."