x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Schoolchildren hand out free food to busload of labourers

Fried chicken sandwiches, apples and water given away after pupils raise money for 'Worker's Bus Raid'.

Julien Sullivan, 15, a student at the American Community School, hands out bags of food to labourers a block from his school.
Julien Sullivan, 15, a student at the American Community School, hands out bags of food to labourers a block from his school.

ABU DHABI // Pamela Abdalla enjoys planning surprises, particularly when they give something back to the community. This explains how unsuspecting construction workers found themselves holding goody bags yesterday, each filled with a fried chicken sandwich, a bottle of water and a red apple. The 140 bags were stuffed and handed out by 30 high school pupils.

"I just came up with this wacky idea of a surprise raid - we're calling it the 'Worker's Bus Raid' - and wanted to use teenage energy and enthusiasm to do something nice for workers,"Mrs Abdalla said. Mrs Abdalla, 46, approached the community service co-ordinator at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi, where two of her three children are pupils, to turn her idea into a reality. "I drive by workers on buses every day, and they always look so disconsolate and discouraged and downtrodden, and I thought surprising them with a treat, maybe a pizza and a doughnut each, would really brighten up their day," she said.

Working with 15-year-old Julien Sullivan, Mrs Abdalla discovered that the workers would much rather have a chicken sandwich. "Julien was put in charge of the project and took over and did all the planning; he asked students to organise bake sales to raise money. He got a supermarket to donate apples. He got discounts on the water bottles and the twisters and signed up volunteers to help bag the food and distribute it," Mrs Abdalla said.

The bake sales raised Dh2,200 (US$600), enough for 140 packages. As the workers near the school queued to get on their bus, the pupils gave each man a bag of food. "It felt really good; the workers were all actually really amazed," Julien said. "The funny thing was they were taking pictures of us with their phones and were so thankful." @Email:hkhalaf@thenational.ae