Interim Director of the Glory Hole Kyle Hargrave, center, thanks second grade students from Harborview Elementary School after their donation of fresh vegetables on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Interim Director of the Glory Hole Kyle Hargrave, center, thanks second grade students from Harborview Elementary School after their donation of fresh vegetables on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Second-grade students bring vegetables, cheer to homeless shelter

Lately, Harborview second-grade teacher Diane Antaya has been finding vegetables in her mailbox at school.

Throughout January, her second-grade class has been collecting onions, carrots, radishes, beets and taking them to the Glory Hole Homeless Shelter. The program, called “Root, Root, Root for the Home Team,” asks the families of the children in Antaya’s class to donate just one or two fresh root-based vegetables to bring to the shelter.

“You would never think to take one onion yourself to the Glory Hole,” Antaya said, “but one or two onions from the kids’ families, most of them realize that everybody can do that. If we all give a little bit, it turns into a lot.”

The idea began when Antaya’s 20-year-old son Elias volunteered at the Glory Hole when he was home from college during winter break in December. He noticed that there was a lack of fresh produce available in the shelter’s kitchen. As he helped prepare quesadillas one day, he noticed that the quesadillas were basically just cheese and tortillas.

Elias mentioned it to his mother, and an idea began to form. Every Friday, her class sings, and one of the students’ favorite songs is “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” She borrowed a line from that song to use as a rallying cry to gather vegetables for the shelter.

The first week, they brought onions. The second week, they brought carrots. This past Friday, the students brought beets and radishes. The whole experience serves as a learning experience, Antaya said, as the students learn more about downtown Juneau on their walk from Harborview and they all get a little exercise to start the day.

Malik Shepperd, one of the students in the class, said he enjoys learning more about downtown because he doesn’t go there very often. More than that, he likes being able to help the shelter provide better meals. Maia Hood, also in the class, has noticed the excitement from those at the Glory Hole when they visit.

“It’s been good because they’re always so happy when we come and donate vegetables,” Hood said.

Kyle Hargrave, the interim director of the Glory Hole, said he also notices a difference on days when the students come. He said that these past three Fridays, the good vibes created by the students’ visit last throughout the day.

Those who stay at the Glory Hole are often dealing with serious and dire circumstances, Hargrave said, and seeing the children helps brighten what can be a dark time.

“The energy that the children bring in, this lighthearted spirit that they have with their smiles and their light step when they come in, it’s palpable,” Hargrave said. “The energy in this room will change after the children leave. The whole day will be different.”

The program is now finished, but both Antaya and Hargrave hope the experience continues to resonate with the students. Hargrave said there’s a stigma attached to the homeless population, and these interactions can help eliminate that negative connotation from a young age.

Antaya said the same, pointing out that the students and those at the Glory Hole have at least a little common ground.

“We really just discussed that these folks are residents of Juneau, too, and today they’re struggling,” Antaya said, “and we can help out.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or alex.mccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


Diane Antaya, a second grade teacher at Harborview Elementary School, walks her students pass the Governor’s House on their way to the Glory Hole to donate fresh vegetables on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Along with learning how to help others, the students used the vegetables in their studies and mapped their walks between school and downtown. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Diane Antaya, a second grade teacher at Harborview Elementary School, walks her students pass the Governor’s House on their way to the Glory Hole to donate fresh vegetables on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Along with learning how to help others, the students used the vegetables in their studies and mapped their walks between school and downtown. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Harborview Elementary School second-graders Ellary Marte, left, Jayleena Escajeda, James Elisoff and Avery Lingle carry their fresh vegetables to the Glory Hole to donate on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Along with learning how to help others, the students used the vegetables in their studies and mapped their walks between school and downtown. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Harborview Elementary School second-graders Ellary Marte, left, Jayleena Escajeda, James Elisoff and Avery Lingle carry their fresh vegetables to the Glory Hole to donate on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Along with learning how to help others, the students used the vegetables in their studies and mapped their walks between school and downtown. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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