GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The 40-year anniversary of 11Alive's Can-A-Thon is kicking off this morning, and you can be part of our mission to help those in need by donating cans and other non-perishable items.
Greater Atlanta Christian School is one of the biggest supporters every year to Can-A-Thon - and their eager students are doing their part again to help the effort.
The students have a goal to deliver 20,000 cans to the Salvation Army drop-off location in Lawrenceville.
Those students know those cans will be used to fill pantries all over metro Atlanta - and Can-A-Thon is filling their hearts with understanding, helping them see a world outside these walls.
"How many of you know that you're going to get to have a lunch today?" a teacher recently asked her third-grade class.
The question, opening their eyes to the real reason why the halls of Greater Atlanta Christian are bulging with canned goods.
"There's a lot of kids without food, it's sad because they don't know what they're going to eat for their next meal," one student said.
Every year, students from Greater Atlanta Christian are among the most enthusiastic contributors to the 11Alive Holiday Can-A-Thon. The effort begins before they can even spell the word "hunger."
It involves classroom trips to the grocery store, buying for others while discussing hunger and gratitude.
"A lot of times there are things where younger students aren't able to participate - this is something they can do, they can bring in food, they can get excited about that," Greater Atlanta Christian President Dr. Scott Harsh said.
As the years pass, their eyes open wider and wider. Seniors Evelyn Logan and Colton Harsh have been collecting and distributing canned goods since they were in second grade.
"At the beginning you only know what you've lived, but as you grow up you start to broaden your worldview, and really realize there are people living different lives from you," Evelyn said.
They realize now that each can they donate each box filled with gifts for others, is a blessing to families in need. Sometimes, they also get to meet those families.
"Still hard to grasp that there are people in the world that don't have as much as us, and so to be able to really go and see them, and realize that they do need our help, is really eye opening," Colton said.
At Greater Atlanta Christian School, those eyes begin to open at such a tender age.
"We want to help those in need for food around the holidays, because some of them really don't have any food right now," a third grader said.
With each passing year, with each Can-A-Thon, their eyes open wider to a world of need outside the school's walls.