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Greensburg students count to 100 while helping others

| Thursday, March 13, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
These first-grade students at Hutchinson Elementary in Greensburg Salem School District are all smiles about a project to help the homeless.

More than 100 students in the six first-grade classes at Amos K. Hutchinson Elementary School sharpened their math skills while learning about helping others.

The Greensburg Salem students collected 847 items and gave those goods to the homeless and needy in Pittsburgh as part of the Outreached Arms program, teachers Vicki Sheffler and Christa Pehrson said.

“They were so excited about this,” Sheffler said. “We remind them every day how important it is to show kindness to everyone.”

The students collected toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, shaving cream and other toiletries and put them in bags they decorated. They gathered clothing, such as socks, hats and gloves.

Their original plan was to gather 600 items — 100 per class — to coincide with the 100th day of classes last month, but the students ended up collecting more goods.

Pehrson, who volunteers for Outreached Arms, and members of Seton Hill University's softball team helped to distribute the items in Pittsburgh.

“It was really nice,” Pehrson said. “It was nice seeing everybody in the community helping people in need.”

First-graders counted the items as they came in to fine-tune their math skills. Or they made graphs of the different goods collected.

“Thanks to the students at Amos K. Hutchinson Elementary School for collecting all the things for our friends down in Pittsburgh and the Seton Hill softball team for helping pass out all the goodies,” Outreached Arms said on its Facebook page.

“Our friends downtown were so overcome and blessed by your kind hearts,” it adds.

The students are learning about the importance of Helen Keller's statement — one recited every day in Sheffler and Pehrson's classes:

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

She hopes students have learned the message.

“These are lessons that hopefully will stay with them their entire life,” Sheffler said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or