One day, soon after, I had two lunch duties, 7th and 8th Grade.
Ah, Carpe Diem! Seize the moment at hand! I explained to the custodian that I needed to collect ALL the milk cartons that day. He pulled on his rubber gloves (this should have been a b.i.g. red flag). He and I tried to grab the milk carton from every student's tray. Students, as well as all of us, get in a flow and stick to it; they are in the habit of throwing away their trash when done eating. They stroll up to the huge garbage cans and chuck their trays into the mini black abyss. To suddenly try to stop them as their arms are extending to throw away their unwanted pasta, salad and milk was like stopping the momentum of the Titanic.
A few students exclaimed, "Mrs. Roberts, you're doing the garbage?!"
Nothing is beneath the Lord and as we are really serving him, who was I but to cheerfully, smilingly explain that I was collecting the cartons for a project.
"Are we using these in Science class?"
"No, a project for community service."
Many different voice inflections as this conversation probably took place over 200 times.
I asked a student, "Xxxx, do you want to help me? I sure could use your help." (I didn't say, "Xxxx, would you please
help me?" because I thought he would think he didn't have a choice.)
"Sure, Mrs. Roberts!" he enthustically replied. He has a mega watt smile so I knew that would increase our success.
He truly was a help and later that afternoon, when I had him in class, presented him with an award of candy with a note written to him expressing my gratitude for his service in helping me. I made sure to tell him to show it to his mother.
I then double bagged the cartons and drug them through our largest middle school, all the way across the entire school to the classroom.
At the end of the day, I realized they had leaked a little, so I re-bagged them in yet another layer of plastic and cleaned the floor up.
I hauled them home, up the stairs, and started to rinse out. every. carton. I rinsed out each carton, twice. Then I gave them a quick soak in a clorax bath. I was tired and had only reached the bottom of bag one.
These are the hours where you think...where is my committee? (They would have helped, I am sure, had they known I was collecting them this day, had I known I was collecting them this day.) Who can I call to help? Why am I doing this when my husband is in Asia and will not walk through the door to help? Cry me a milk bath. I will say my knees were killing me. Mind you I had already taught school all day aNd collected the cartons. I knew I had to forge on and win the battle of the milk cartons (could be a new scene in the "Nutcracker") or they would sour and then I would have to do this all again. That's a motivator so I turned on some holiday tunes and sang my heart out as I rinsed and tossed the cartons into the tub.
After repeating the same procedure with the 8th Graders bag, I then stacked them all upside down in the tub to drain. My back had quite a crick at this point.
After a few days of drip drying, I boxed and counted them; 267!
Hats off and many thanks to my student; the most upbeat custodian in our district; and my friend, Michelle! It is indeed a way good day when we can all help each other in life! (If I had little ones at home, we would have predicted and then counted how many of each type of carton (chocolate won hands down!) and made graphs. That is fun to do, too!