Three Hinesburg Community School students took the opportunity to turn an assignment into an opportunity to make the holidays a little more special for their food-insecure classmates.

Seventh grade students Ezra Dziurzynski, Kate Roberts and Sage Peterson decided to go above and beyond for their Personalized Learning Project, raising more than $500 to buy food for hungry students.

Their efforts come at a wonderful time – just before the holidays, as students who may count on free or reduced lunches when school is in session may find themselves in a less-than-festive situation, facing hunger.

The students went door-to-door and posted on Front Porch Forum, soliciting donations. And when they felt that wasn’t enough, they designed a website to further advance their goal of making sure that as many as possible have a reason to be thankful on Thanksgiving.

Co-Principal of grades 5–8 at Hinesburg Community School, John Pontius, said, “A personalized learning plan gives students the opportunity to learn about themselves by undertaking a project that is not necessarily tied to traditional academic subjects.”

And learn about themselves they did.

“It was a little scary at first just going up to people and asking for money, but the community was really supportive of us,” said Kate.

They also learned a bit about working cooperatively. Ezra had the idea of designing the website, and Sage built it.

The students took about $350 of the money they raised and went to Lantman’s Market, where they bought 15 bags of food to help tide some of their neighbors over during the holidays.

That left them with $150 for Christmas.

Those who missed the Thanksgiving round of donations can still contribute at

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