Kindergartners shop for Mayors Feed the Hungry program.
Primrose kindergarten student Andres Myara was huddled with his classmates at the Publix Supermarket at Market Street in Lakewood Ranch, peering into a freezer full of turkeys.
Publix employee Ashley Caraballo had helped them hunt for a frozen turkey weighing 15 pounds.
Caraballo pulled it out, and Myara and his classmates took turns seeing if they could pick it up.
When it was Myara’s turn, he hoisted it upward with two hands.
“It feels like a bowling ball that had 100 turkeys in it,” he said.
Shopping for a Thanksgiving meal has its challenges.
Children in Primrose’s kindergarten class had spent the past month earning money from their parents by doing chores, such as making their beds, folding laundry and washing the family car.
On Nov. 20, they used the $276 they collectively earned to buy food for the Mayors Feed the Hungry program, which provides food to families in need in Sarasota and Manatee counties.
Primrose kindergarten teacher Susan Artemik said the experience was part of the children’s character development.
“It’s about being kind to people, being generous and giving to people without any expectations,” Artemik said.
Thirteen of her students made the trip to Publix (two were absent), and they were divided into two groups. Each group had a grocery cart and a list of items including yams, pasta, olives and, of course, a turkey. Artemik said the students made up the list of items they thought belonged at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
Artemik led the expedition, stopping when they came upon an item from their lists. If there was a buy-one-get-one-free sale or other special, she would point it out to them and then run the numbers. Kindergartners would grab the items on their list and pile them into the cart.
Kindergartner Sam Taylor grabbed a 24-ounce jar of applesauce and let everyone know how heavy it was by flexing.
“Look how big my muscles are,” Taylor said.
Mike and Julina Howell, whose son, Jason, was on the field trip, helped chaperone the shoppers.
When Mike Howell saw children heading toward glass jars of pasta sauce, he coached them to slow down and use two hands. They complied.
“It’s like trying to wrangle a bunch of squid,” Howell said of the shopping with such a large group of children. “But we’re doing all right.”
Caraballo gave the students a behind-the-scenes tour of the store. They had fun on the tour, especially when they tasted freshly cut pineapple and strawberries.
“I liked shopping,” 5-year-old Miya Santiago said. “I liked getting jelly. I got my favorite — the pink raspberry.”