Haviland second and third graders used a Thrivent Grant to purchase food at the Pratt Walmart for families in need.

With calculators and clipboards in hand, second and third grade students from Haviland Elementary hit the aisles Thursday at Walmart in Pratt to purchase food for area needy families.

Grant money for the project came from Thrivent Financial. Misty Piester, who works with Pratt Parents as Teachers, has an account with Thrivent and made arrangements for the $250 grant. Her children also attend Haviland so she was on hand to help out as a parent.

“I applied through Thrivent Financial for the grant,” Piester said.

Students split into five Thrivent Action teams, each with $45.50 to spend. Each group had an adult assisting but the students were responsible tracking how much money they spent and to not go over budget. Students discovered they could get more for their money if they bought products at a lower price.

“Students learned problem solving to meet their budget,” Piester said.

Each team had a list of items and the students were excited to get involved with the project. They carefully looked at items, with some assistance from the adults, and were happy to get as much as they could for hungry families.

"We got to help other people," said student Leah Dukes. "It's really fun."

Teacher Kay Unruh said the project was a good application of math skills for the students.

Besides challenging students math skills, the project also helped students understand the power of helping others.

Student Hailey Halverstadt said it was nice to be generous and help the families have a good life.

Parent Cassie Stokes said the project gave the students practical experience working with a budget and an opportunity to do something kind.

“Many of the students already have a giving spirit and this program gives the students a chance they have never had to share that spirit,” Piester said.

“I think it’s a great experience,” Piester said. “It gives the kids a chance to be on the giving end. And it teaches them problem solving skills.”

Students involved with the project included second graders Leah Dukes, Reed Frazier, Hailey Halverstadt, Mary James, Bryson Kendall, Cole Leoffler, Abel Martinez, Ziley McAdoo, Myles Mitchell, Lincoln Piester and Evelynn Stokes; and third graders Grayson Ballard, Broden Chartier, Cadie Follette, Hannah Halberstadt, Jessica Langley, Sawyer Lingafelter, Madilen McAdoo, Benjamin Sturgeon and Arabella Beusch.

Adult helpers included second grade teacher Kay Unruh and third grade teacher Marlieta Davis, and parents Kami Ballard, Jessica Leoffler, Cassie Stokes and Misty Piester.

Items purchased will be distributed for the hungry through local food banks.