Wild Horse Elementary students raise $4K to help others, without parents’ help


Jordan Palmer

Little kids helping big kids in need. That’s what the Rockwood School District Wild Horse Elementary K-5 students were tasked to do as part of a school-wide, service-learning fundraising project this semester. The project was co-facilitated by Debbie Fox, a longtime member of Congregation a Shaare Emeth.

The kids raised more than $4,000 to help Soulcial Kitchen provide 562 ‘Currency of Caring’ dignified dining tokens (1 token = 1 hot, nutritious meal) to St. Louisans in need – they also chose to treat some very deserving local health care workers to 200 free food truck meals as a way to say thank you for all they do. And they did all this without asking their parents for one red cent. That’s right. The youngsters raised 100% of the funds using sweat equity.

Wild Horse Elementary | The idea

The idea started simply. Pick a local charity Wild Horse Elementary School students could support via fundraising and incorporate learning across all grade levels. Fox, and her co-facilitator, Andrea Wylie, heard about the good work Soulcial Kitchen was doing to transform how communities join together to combat food insecurity. When Fox and Wylie brought Social Kitchen’s mission to the kids, they were immediately excited and engaged.

“We didn’t want to just collect cans, and we didn’t want the kids to just ask their parents for money,” said Fox. “We had two main objectives with this project. Each grade had to learn about food insecurity, on a level that was age-appropriate. And they – the kids – had to do odd jobs to raise the funds needed to purchase Soulcial Kitchen ‘Currency of Caring’ coins. I think they really enjoyed that homework assignment.”

Two sisters, Molly and Dylan Pereles, are students at Wild Horse and members of Shaare Emeth as well. Molly, a fifth-grader, was part of the student leadership council that helped plan the project. She says it’s all about caring for her community.

“It felt really good to help people in need and help the medical workers because we gave them a meal, too. I’m glad Wild Horse did this because it made everyone there feel really good,” said Molly.

Dylan, a third-grader, opened a lemonade stand with some friends and raised $103.


“Each token is worth $8 so we collected a lot of tokens,” said Dylan. “It’s really nice because if someone did that to you, you would feel really special, so I think it’s nice to do this for someone and make them feel special.”

From bake sales and lemonade stands like Dylan’s to kids mowing lawns or doing whatever chores they could, the kids raised $4,496 for Soulcial Kitchen to deploy multiple food trucks to feed others with tasty, hot food. Its mission is to leverage the power of people and food trucks to reduce food insecurity throughout the greater St. Louis metropolitan area through its one-of-a-kind “Currency of Caring” initiative.

Wild Horse Elementary | How it works

The Currency of Caring token is a prepaid token that may be purchased at any Soulcial Kitchen-powered food truck, inside the Soulcial Kitchen Restaurant, on the Soulcial Kitchen website, or via Venmo for $8. It is a unique “pay it forward” dining program designed to create a simplified means of offering a free, hot, delicious, and nutritious meal to a resident in need.

“And not only did the incredible kids at Wild Horse double their original fundraising goal, blessing the charity of their choice, inExcelsis, they wanted to treat and thank St. Luke’s Hospital for saving lives during the pandemic,” said John Michel, Soulcial Kitchen co-founder.

“I am so blown away by what these kids accomplished in a few short months. Every city has food trucks. And every city across America has a rising population of people with food insecurity,” said Soulcial Kitchen co-founder Holly Michel. “If the kids at Wild Horse Elementary can make such a significant impact, just imagine what our community, united, can do! And not just here, but in cities across the United States.”