One of the character pillars of learning at Alta Brown Elementary School is caring. Under this pillar, the students are taught the importance of being kind in words and deeds.

That is the lesson the students learned from a recent project at the school to collect supplies for the Salvation Army.

Not only that, but they also learned that helping the community can be fun at the same time.

The supplies were handed over to leaders of the charity on Saturday. School was out, so the donation was handed over by teachers, but the Salvation Army fully appreciated the students’ effort.

“This is our second year,” said Gil Perea, a teacher who helped the children with the project. “We felt it was important to do a community project every year, and the Salvation Army was our choice this time.”

The Salvation Army intensifies its campaigns during the holiday season, but needs supplies all year long.

Perea said the student project was such a success, the children may get a party to reward their efforts once they return to school.

“Time was short, but they did pretty good for the time they had,” he said.

The drive went from Dec. 1 to 19, and the students brought in 800 assorted food items.

The food was stacked against a wall in one hallway in the shape of a Christmas stocking as it came in. There were peaches, baby food and other shelf-stable items.

Once the donation was handed over, the different containers were put in the back of a Salvation Army van parked just outside the school doors. It filled the cargo space quickly.

“We never emphasized a particular goal to them,” Perea said. “We wanted them to feel they were helping other people, and, as far as we are concerned, they’ve achieved that goal.”

Salvation Army Lt. Jeff Curran said the students had indeed helped many others with their donation.

“The food we have now, in addition to what we have got from Alta Brown, will probably be going out in about three months,” Curran said. “As long as we have people doing stuff like this, then the pantry is full.”

Joyce Curran — Jeff’s wife, and also with the Salvation Army — said children always seem quick to give.

“That is important because they are the future,” she said.

She believes that if children feel they are contributing to the community, then Garden City will have a more successful future.

Alta Brown has five grade levels, kindergarten through fourth grade. In addition to caring, other pillars the students learn about include trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness and citizenship.