ANDERSONVILLE — For the second year in a row, a group of students from Peirce Elementary School braved inclement weather to collect donations in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
On Monday, about 14 students from the Andersonville school at 1423 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. spent their day off collecting almost two dozen shopping and garbage bags of donations for RefugeeOne.
"It felt good doing things for other people, but it was really cold. I felt like my hands were going to fall off, but it was worth it," said Jack Needham, a second grader from Peirce.
Before heading out, the children took turns reading "Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." by Doreen Rappaport. Around 2 p.m., the children grabbed umbrellas to trek through the rain to collect goods from their neighbors.
"It was pretty cold, but it felt pretty good because we were doing it for people in need," said fourth grader Willa Kennedy, who hoped her teachers would be proud of the work on their day off.
The children spread out on routes along Catalpa, Wayne and Glenwood avenues to collect the items.
"We walked from house to house asking people if they would donate. Then when we got back we sorted it into categories," said Harrison Bakunas, a third grader. "It felt pretty good to be part of this big thing. It was pretty nice."
Neighbors gave the children toiletries, kitchen goods, school supplies, fresh towels and gently-used coats to donate.
The donations will go to RefugeeOne, the largest refugee resettlement agency in Illinois, according to its website.
"It was cool, but we didn't really know what we got because it was all in bags and stuff, but it felt like a lot," said third grader Katherin Kupferer.
Last year, Luca DeSanto decided, since his classmates were off for the day, to gather them to collect coats for Care for Real in Edgewater. He was inspired by how King fought for Civil Rights and thought it would be a good way to honor him.
Earlier this month, Luca, now 8, helped his mom print out flyers and put them up in the neighborhood to alert neighbors they would be coming Monday, he said.
King "would feel really good about it because it is kind of what he did: help people in need," he said, adding he hopes to "do the exact same thing for another company that helps poor people" next year.
"At first, it didn't seem like much, but when we put it all together it was a ton," said his mother Emily DeSanto, who organized the youngsters.
After collecting donations, the children were treated to a pizza party courtesy of Ranalli's and Giordano's Pizza.
"It was good for the kids. If they're going to have a day off for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we should honor him," said Emily DeSanto.
The students read from "Martin's Big Words" before heading out. [Courtesy of Emily DeSanto]