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Box Tops for Education Donates $20,000 to Oakland Elementary School to Support Garden-to-Table Program

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Oakland Elementary School is one of 14 schools selected nationwide to receive $20,000 as part of Box Tops for Education’s ongoing pledge to support schools and help students reach their fullest potential.

Box Tops for Education, the well-known fundraising program sponsored by General Mills, recently made the donation to support Oakland’s garden-to-table project.

Oakland’s vibrant garden-to-table program only started in August 2023 but has quickly become an integral part of the school’s curriculum. In a short time, students have designed and built the current garden and planted and harvested several crops, including broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, lettuce, spinach, and kale. However, funding challenges have threatened the program’s long-term viability.

Oakland is a participating school in the Box Tops for Education program through which shoppers earn for schools by purchasing General Mills products. The garden project’s swift growth and substantial impact were key factors in bringing the school to the company’s attention.

“Each year, Box Tops selects schools to be awarded $20,000 to increase their impact,” said Principal Andre Johnson. “We are sincerely grateful to be one of those schools and proud that Box Tops featured us because of our unique use of previous funding.”

Box Tops’ timely support will go a long way toward fortifying the program by enabling the school to purchase a greenhouse, garden beds, seeds, soil, rain barrels, gardening tools, and cooking equipment.

The garden-to-table program reflects Henry County Schools’ (HCS) mission and vision, which seeks to empower students through education and activities that not only prepare them for future success but also meet their current needs.

Through the garden-to-table program, students learn firsthand about farming and healthy food options, reap additional benefits from being outdoors, and interact with their peers in physical activity. They experience the wonder of planting, nurturing, harvesting, and consuming what they have grown, along with a sense of pride knowing staff and the community also benefit.

“We are so excited about the work of Principal Johnson and the teachers and staff at Oakland,” said Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis. “The garden-to-table program and community partnerships exemplify our focus on more learning, more growing, and more celebrating for every student in HCS every day.”

The immersive garden-to-table experience empowers and instills a sense of responsibility as students engage in the process. It also helps bring many classroom concepts to life, particularly those related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), furthering the district’s goal of making STEM accessible for all students.

Besides donating items from the garden locally, Oakland also benefits from connections through partnerships with community members. Community organization Young Men Rising and Henry County Master Gardener Hope Thompson are among the volunteers guiding students in creating and maintaining the garden-to-table program.

“The school is a hub for the community,” Principal Johnson added. “We strive to be more connected to the community by nurturing meaningful partnerships and creating relationships with students, parents, teachers, and stakeholders.”

Oakland also intends to use funds to host events such as cooking demonstrations to bolster family partnerships.

About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.