A Dempsey Middle School class came up with a creative way to use the heap of lost-and-found items at the school for the good of the community.

A Dempsey Middle School class came up with a creative way to use the heap of lost-and-found items at the school for the good of the community.

The contents of the lost-and-found box had been overtaking the Dempsey Middle School administration office, and Principal Andy Hatton wanted to see if students could come up with a solution to the problem.

Hatton asked Nicki Wright, Career Based Intervention coordinator, to talk to her eighth-grade students about this "real-world" problem and see what ideas they had.

Wright broke the students up into different groups and gave them each a theme -- such as technology, creativity or marketing -- to see if they could use their theme to solve the problem.

One of the main issues students saw was the overabundance of lunch bags. Wright remembered that the coordinator for Delaware County Habitat for Humanity said that organization had a need for lunches to be supplied to construction workers while they were on-site.

Students voted to use some of their fundraising money from the year to purchase food to pack into the bags and deliver them to a construction site.

Wright took home and washed 17 lunch bags; then students packed them full of food, got on a bus and delivered them to the construction site of the new Family Promise home, which is expected to be completed in July.

In addition to purchasing food, students used their cooking skills to make caramel corn and 'puppy chow' to include in the lunches.

Students are required to learn how to cook as part of the CBI curriculum, in addition to learning how to solve real-world problems.

Students also wrote notes for the construction workers to include in the lunches thanking them for taking the time to build houses for families in need.

The workers were so moved by the gesture, they wrote a letter to thank the students for supporting Habitat for Humanity, Wright said.

"It was a sweet, nice surprise for our students," she said. "I wasn't expecting it, but it was great to show students that they really are making a difference."

The workers returned the lunch bags so students could provide more meals in the future.

In addition to reusing the lunch bags, students found clothing in the lost and found that they washed themselves and folded for students who need nice clothing for the school trip to Washington, D.C.

Students who go on the trip must dress nicely, and some students may not have the money to purchase new clothing, district leaders said.

Wright said it's a great way to reuse clothing for a good purpose.

"The best thing about all this recycling we're doing is that it stays right here in our community," she said. "We're not giving this to a far-away charity, but students right here are using them."

Wright has informed other teachers about the lunch project in case they want their classes to participate.

"Any class can provide a lunch for the workers," she said. "I like to spread the word about volunteer activities because there are so many opportunities out there; they just have to take them."