Local educator uses cereal drive to teach students about giving

Joyce Hairston with boxes of cereal donated to Wee Care!

Local educator uses cereal drive to teach students about giving
April 21
13:42 2023

For nearly a decade Joyce Hairston, director at Ephesus Learning Center, has supported Crisis Control Ministry’s Wee Care! Cereal Drive and this year Hairston made her biggest donation yet – 115 boxes of cereal. While Hairston is known for her generosity, the event supported by students helps families in need, Hairston said she also uses the annual event as a teaching point for students. 

Held annually for the past 23 years as part of National Nutrition Month, the Wee Care! Cereal Drive invites local preschools, daycares, and elementary schools to collect cereal throughout the month of March. The donated cereal will be distributed by Crisis Control Ministry’s food pantries to hungry families experiencing financial crises. 

Hairston, who has been the director at Ephesus Learning Center for the past 13 years, said every year she gives her students an incentive to donate, but this year they went above and beyond. Hairston also received donations from other staff at Ephesus Learning Center, family, and others who just wanted to donate to the worthy cause. “I gave them a little incentive and they came through,” said Hairston with a smile. 

“Out of the 115 boxes, we have 13 parents, four staff members and let’s say three of our neighbors.”

Hairston said she was overwhelmed with joy when someone who lives in the neighborhood that she doesn’t know that well, stopped her and made a $10 donation. 

“I’ve only seen her maybe three times in my entire life, and she stopped me and gave me $10 and said ‘Go get some more cereal,’” Hairston explained. 

“At a time like this and to have people that are still willing to give, I know there are some big hearts out there who really care.” 

Hairston said her giving spirit comes from her father. She said although they didn’t have much when she was growing up, her father taught her the importance of giving at an early age. “I watched my dad, he loved to give and I believe whatever he had in him I got some of it,” said Hairston.

“Even if you don’t have much, you can always give.”

Hairston said she uses the cereal drive to teach the same lessons her father taught her, to her students. She told The Chronicle about one student who questioned his parents when they brought the cereal to school. “The child saw his mother give me the cereal and he said, ‘No mommy, that’s my cereal,’ he said. 

“And it was a teachable moment because she told him, ‘We’re sharing this cereal with children who don’t have cereal at home.’ I think it had a tremendous impact on that child because the cereal sat here for a month and he never said anything else about wanting that cereal.” 

While the Wee Care! Cereal Drive has ended for the year, Hairston is already preparing for next year. Hairston says she plans to retire next year and wants to donate even more cereal than she did this year. 

“I want to go out with a bang,” Hairston laughed. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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