Mary H. Matula Elementary School students displayed the character trait of generosity last month by teaming up to put together bagged lunches for The Arnold House, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of homelessness and hunger in Southern Maryland.

Maria Farnham’s kindergarten class, Meredith Metcalfe’s second graders and fifth graders in Kim Deavers class gathered in Matula’s cafeteria, assigned to one of six stations — greeting cards, chips, desserts, sandwiches, water and quality control. Into the brown paper bags went a bottle of water, a bag of chips, a package of cookies and a sandwich. After quality control went through the bags to make sure all items were inside and not “smushed” (a requirement of Matula Principal Carrie Richardson), a hand-drawn greeting card was stapled to the bag.

The service project brought to life the lessons of generosity learned during December, Richardson said. The project shows children how generosity looks in the community and how they can pitch in to help their neighbors.

“I think everybody can help in some way,” Sydney Hall, a fifth grader, said. “Even the little kids … they are being very creative and making really cute cards.”

Each grade level was assigned a lunch item to bring in and they delivered. The school collected enough to put together 100 lunches, Farnham said. Helping The Arnold House is a natural fit for Matula. The Arnold House assists a handful of Matula families with its Backpack Program that sends students home with food over weekends.

Nathan Carter, a fifth grader at the sandwich station, was handing off sandwiches to classmate Kaleyah McPherson at the water station to add to the lunches. Trouble was, the sandwich makers were on a roll and McPherson was hustling. “You’re killing me, Nate,” she said. “Keep up,” he laughed.

Once the madness died down, McPherson reflected on the project. “You need to help people,” she said. “If they don’t have food, give them food. You have to be kind.”