Great little workers give back again

Portsmouth Elementary School fifth graders that are part of the group called Trojans Give Back

Virgie and Mark Hunter cut a ceremonial ribbon to dedicate the Blessing Box

Portsmouth Elementary fifth graders lining up to help fill the Blessing Box

There is a wonderful group of fifth graders at Portsmouth Elementary School that this year have gone well above what many do to help others.

This students group, called Trojans Give Back, have come up with a great idea and shepherded it to fruition. The children made a Blessing Box for their community, near their school. And last week there was a ceremony to dedicate the Blessing Box.

The Blessing Box is located outside of the old Portsmouth gymnasium, and was constructed and mounted by the maintenance crew for Portsmouth City Schools.

When the Blessing Box was dedicated, the fifth-grade students had a lot to say about its importance.

“It means a lot — a bunch of people walking around with no food, like this helps them be able to eat and stuff,” McKynna Jaivin said.

“What the Blessing Box means to me: People around the world, homeless people and things like that, people can come by here and use the Blessing Box,” Kyla Reinhardt said.

“It means there are people that don’t have and don’t get to eat like other people, they can get food and they can take care of themselves,” Reagan Goddard said.

“I’m happy it’s there for people if they’re hungry, they can go get something,” Francisca Cosen says.

“I was the one who read the plaque on the Blessing Box and I wanted to say giving back to the community makes me happy,” Jocelyn Hill said.

“I like how, if people don’t have food and are homeless, they can come and get their food and what this means to them,” Alexis Kinnison said.

”It means to me like, if someone’s out here and they’re hungry or homeless, they can go get something, they can just come over to the Blessing Box and get some food,” Mekhia Lampkins said.

“To me, the Blessing Box means, a memorabilia of Steven A Hunter, which was someone from our school who meant so much to carry on his blessing,” Olivia Taylor said.

“It’s a blessing because, if people didn’t have money, they can get food out of the box,” Heavenlee Newsome explained.

“It means a lot because everybody is helping out to do it, and I think it’s wonderful that the teachers are doing it, too,” Onnabeth Boyd said.

“It’s a good thing for people in need to go to the Blessing Box to get what they need,” Daria Cockrin decided.

The Blessing Box is a way to give a “blessing to those in need. It was inspired by the kindness of the Hunter family and all they do for the students of the school district. Items that are great to include in the box are any non-perishable items (canned foods, ramen noodles and bottled water) and toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, even travel sized lotions, shampoos and soaps from hotels work great). The Blessing Box is located by the school, so students and their families can have easy access to it. This gives students the opportunity to get what they need privately.

The fifth graders of Trojans Give Back, work regularly on community projects to help others. But the Give Back team wanted to do something to give back to the community.

“I had them make a list of things to do, and they came up with so many, we found out we couldn’t do it in one day, so we decided to take and do one every month,” explained teacher Alison Tennant. “Our first project was a Blessing Box at Bob and Floyd’s Tires. We filled that box in the month of October, and when we did that one, we decided that it would be nice to do one here on our campus. This one was inspired by the Hunters (Mark and Virgie) for the kindness and all the things they do for our students here at the school.

”This project goes along with what they do everyday here for the kids at our school that need extra help. By putting this Blessing Box up here, we are able to give back to our community. It also is a reflection of what their son did when he was here at the school. Our school has sponsored the Blessing Box for March, and this week, March 12th-16th, we brought in 577 items. In total, we have brought in 788 items for two weeks. That is amazing!” Tennant said.

“This is such a wonderful thing, and you all know Mr. and Mrs. Hunter, and they are our family,” teacher Kathy Amburgey told those assembled. “The Steven Hunter Foundation was establish in 2006. Their son Steven had a strong conviction to help those in need, and a strong Christian faith. The mission is to improve the lives of the economically disadvantaged in Scioto and surrounding counties by supplying basic needs and opportunity, fostering hope for the future. The primary focus is childhood hunger, Steven’s Power Pack program feeds over 1,200 children on the weekends in 18 different schools. They are in the process of opening six food pantries in area high schools. It is appropriate to dedicate this Blessing Box to your family. The example of living a Godly life left behind by Steven continues to inspire us to live a life of service, by giving back to our community.”

Mark Hunter accepted the honor by thanking the children for having an impact on their community, and Virgie said she was so proud of them all for the things that they had been doing.

“We love you so much. Keep up the good work. Any act of kindness you can do for someone else, means so much. You never know how much one little act of kindness can change lives of others,” Virgie said. She also told the students that they were so blessed to have such a wonderful superintendent (Scott Dutey), principal (Beth Born) and teacher (Tennant).

They have a plan that, through Tennant’s husband Brian, his team at work is going to fill the box for the first week in April, and then after that, he is going to challenge another business in the community to sponsor it. Therefore, it will continue to be passed on through the challenge method. The goal is that each sponsor for the week will challenge someone for the next week and so forth to continue, to keep growing. The Trojan Give Back team will continue to monitor the box to make sure it is filled.

If you have questions regarding the challenge, email Tennant at

Tennant sends out notes to challenge others to fill the box. The letters read as follows:

Greetings! You have been challenged by ____________ for your company/organization on social media with the following hashtags: #inspiredbythehunters #RACK #trojansgivebackteam

“Oh my goodness, the kids were so excited, the feeling it gives them. It makes them feel good,” Born said of the students.

This all demonstrates that, no matter how young you are, you can accomplish big things by working together to make something great. This group of fifth graders has shown such compassion for their community this year, and the year is not yet over.

Reach Kimberly Jenkins at 740-353-3101 ext. 1928