Jones Middle School sixth-graders were "hunger heroes" in Upper Arlington this week as they carried more than 2,000 food items down Cambridge Boulevard to First Community Church, 1320 Cambridge Blvd.
Dressed in orange, with orange-painted faces, wigs and clothing, the students also carried posters with slogans such as, "Not All Super Heroes Wear Capes. We are the Hunger Heroes."
"We are called the Hunger Heroes," said Megan Holcomb. "We may not be as cool as Ironman or as strong as Thor, but we will still save the world."
Teacher Molly Miely said Jones sixth-graders and teachers have been making their "hunger walk" for the past four years.
"The project is about creating awareness for and making an impact on the issue of hunger in our community," she said. "The students believe they can end hunger by the year 2019, just as they learned the Mid-Ohio Foodbank wants to do."
She said the students collected more than 2,500 food items last year and may have topped that number this year.
"We started collecting items the weekend of April 26," she said. "Students created fliers and distributed them in their neighborhoods."
Miely said orange is the adopted color of the anti-hunger movement.
"The students wanted to create awareness, so they decided to wear the anti-hunger color orange -- orange clothing, orange-painted hair and faces, orange hats, wigs, bandanas, socks and shoes," she said. "They created slogans and painted them on foamboard posters to carry during the walk to create further awareness in the community."
The poster messages included "Let's Make This a Hunger-Free World," "Let's End Hunger Together," "We Won't Stop Until No One's Hungry" and "3 Words. Let's. End. Hunger."
"People are hungry, but they don't have to be," student Katherine Hayek said.
Miely said the sixth-graders visited the Mid-Ohio Foodbank in February.
"The kids learned about hunger in central Ohio and they brainstormed ways to help end hunger," she said. "One recurring suggestion was to collect food for the pantries.
"They also learned about those who are food-insecure that live not far from where they live and must wait in a food line to get enough food for their families -- families that included kids their own age and babies," she said.
Maddie Frank said she is happy to be a Hunger Hero.
"We need to help because there is enough food in the world for every single person," she said. "There is not a reason why anyone shouldn't be helping and caring for others. It makes them feel good and it makes me feel good."
Miely said an important goal at Jones is to teach students to "lead positive change in their community."
"Children learn empathy through experience," she said. "Through service-learning, students are engaged and learning is authentic as they seek solutions to real-world problems. Service-learning empowers kids as they see they can make a difference and change the world around them."