PITTSBURG — Third graders gave back to their community by raising over $1,000 to purchase food.

Meadowlark Elementary third graders have been learning about their community through their social studies classes. Thursday, the students thanked their donors and helped bring in the food they helped fundraise for The Lord’s Diner.

Third grade teacher Brendan Finley said, “This is a good, unique opportunity for them to genuinely support the community.”

The third graders created posters for the cause and collected change in the hallways at school.

Meadowlark Third Grade Teacher Carrie Lance said she wanted to take the opportunity to teach her children about giving back to the community.

“I wanted to teach the kids how to give back to the community and promote awareness of this awesome resource,” she said.

Carrie Lance’s grandmother, Merry Lance, donated $500.

Merry Lance is 91 years old and lives in Via Christi Village. She studied English and journalism and taught throughout the years.

“I wanted to help them make money, I knew they were being kind,” Merry Lance said. “The children were so excited to do such a helpful thing.

All of the children exclaimed, “Hi Granny!” when they saw Merry Lance.

The children all at once, thanked her for the donation.

“I’m glad to be granny to all of you!” Merry Lance said.

Third grader Avinelle Mikrut said she thinks the project was a good idea. Mikrut was also very happy to finally meet Merry Lance.

“I like this idea cause it helps people in need,I really like that,” she said. “We are all happy to see Granny, we talked about her in class.”

The children gave Merry Lance a gift — thank you cards bound into a book to show their appreciation.

“I was so surprised and so happy,” Merry Lance said. “I feel so good, this is one of the happiest days in all my life.

“It was nice to have all the children here to thank me.”

The students also received a $200 check from the Kindness Revolution to the Lord’s Diner. The Kindness Revolution supplied the students with yellow rubber bracelets for their kindness, which the children presented to Merry Lance.

Carrie Lance told Ron Marrone, of Marrone’s Inc., about the children’s Love Thy Neighbor Project and how she would like to use Marrone’s grocery service.

The Marrone’s were so impressed by the third graders’ fundraising they donated $250.

“My brothers and I are very impressed,” Marrone said. “Because of what you did, you helped people in the community.

“When I see your faces I’m not worried about your future.”

The money the children raised went towards 2,500 pounds of food including vegetables, apple cobbler, ice cream and seasoning. The children also bought laundry detergent.

“Tony and I are coming in when they are serving the apple cobbler and ice cream,” Marrone said.

Marrone allowed the children to help carry all of the goods from a refrigerated truck into The Lord’s Diner.

The Lord’s Diner Site Director Matt O’Malley said the amount of vegetables donated will last the diner over a month.

Meadowlark third grader Anna Ozbun said she has ate at The Lord’s Diner before.

“I love to come here,” Ozbun said. “The summer sausage is great and so is the dessert.”

“This is a very humbling experience,” Carry Lance said. “This is going to feed a lot of people.”

The Lord’s Diner serves meals every evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The diner runs on volunteers and monetary support from the community.

“The children have an impact on people they serve,” O’Malley said. “The overall community has embraced the The Lord’s Diner.”

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP.