Harvest Manitoba went above and beyond in their mission to nourish children and incorporated an affirmation exercise in the Breakfast 2 Go packs for the students at the five schools they reach out to. The response has been incredible.
Mika Peterson, Harvest Manitoba’s Community Events Manager, shared that “the affirmations started as a way to ensure our Breakfast 2 Go students were being nourished physically and mentally with food, but also emotionally through positive affirmation. We understand that in order to have healthy children in our communities they need to be supported equally in all three ways, which is why we have included affirmation notes in the kits. It’s just a reminder that someone is thinking of you and looking out for you. Here’s a meal and a little note to make you feel cared for.”
Initially, the affirmation notes came from Google or Pinterest searches. One day, a group of volunteers who had come in to sort food finished early and asked if there were other ways they could help. The Harvest Manitoba team asked if they would like to prepare handwritten affirmations for the breakfast kits. The messages could be as simple as “Have a great day!” or “Enjoy your breakfast!” The volunteers happily agreed. It was intended as a one-time exercise, but students and teachers alike said how much these personal messages meant. Not only did they make students feel good, but the adult volunteers who wrote them also enjoyed the experience and were reminded of the importance of being kind to themselves as well.
The impact was overwhelmingly positive. The students said the affirmations made them feel like someone cared, and they were excited to see what their message would be from week to week. The Harvest Manitoba team was glad that such a simple action was having such a powerful effect. During the holidays, Harvest Manitoba shared a social media post asking the community for affirmation submissions. Over 100 families, schools and businesses responded, thus expanding the scope of the initiative and showcasing the power of community.
At the end of the year, Harvest Manitoba distributed a survey to students to get their feedback about the program. One of the questions was about the affirmation notes and how they made students feel. Here are some of their heartwarming answers:
- “I feel happy and special.”
- “I love them. I put them up on my fridge at home. I have kept every note since last year.”
- “What I feel when I get B2Go… HAPPY!”
- “Kind of fun to read, the motivational ones are the best.”
- “The notes in my B2Go kit make me feel happy.”
- “I read them and keep them in a box.”
- “Happy! The jokes are happy and funny and silly!”
- “I keep them for my sister because she has been struggling and the note made her feel better.”
- “They’re funny so they make me laugh!”
- “Makes me smile, it’s cool that you can tell other kids wrote them.”
- “Confident and awesome.”
- “I got a lot of them. It feels good to hear nice words.”
- “The notes in the bags make me feel encouraged to make something.”
- “Happy, very happy and I feel like I should give someone else the same note.”
- “The notes I get in my Breakfast 2 Go bags make my day even better and it gives me a big smile. I remember last year I would always collect the notes and give them to my family members.”
- “I want to know who writes them and I want to write them for other kids.”
- “It makes me feel really good. Every time I’m in class I look at the notes and it helps me work faster.”
- “They make me feel like somebody is giving me confidence :).”
- “It actually makes me feel good because I know I have some food to eat.”
When asked what she loves the most about the affirmations, Mika said:
“I love that our students feel cared for, that the affirmations act as a little reminder that they have a whole community supporting them. It is the best part of my job seeing people in the community come together to support one another. Whether that’s supporting Breakfast 2 Go through funds, food, time packing the kits or time spent creating an affirmation note, it truly has such a huge impact.“
The whole experience once again shows that every bit counts. Even a small donation or investment of time can have a lasting impact.