How do you instill students with a sense of community? Teaching about it is one way. Doing is another.

Greenwood Elementary School is "doing" in a big way with The Great Greenwood Giveaway - a big garage sale in the gym at school, 418 N. 8th St., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. Oct. 2. No items there will have a price tag because everything is free.

Like all local public schools, Greenwood is blending "service learning" with its curriculum. The aim of The Great Giveaway is to offer a range of goods for struggling families -- from adult and children's clothes and shoes to toys, books, household items and holiday decorations.

"All our kids will be involved by trying to find what they may have at home that is not being used or that is outworn," said second-grade teacher Kari LaPoint. "We're targeting families who may be financially strapped, undergoing hardships, and could use pots and pans, clothes, things like that."

LaPoint said the hardship factor has risen in recent years -- even in River Falls. More students use the Free-and-Reduced Lunch program. Others can't afford basic school supplies.

Greenwood families brought garage-sale items to the classrooms then sorted collected, categorized and stored them. Other students are making public signs and posters about The Great Giveaway. Class discussions and writing assignments have a "giving" theme.

"What we hope students learn by doing all this is something about that spirit of giving," says teacher Becky Glade, who works with the school's learning disabled. "The idea is that even when times are tough, there's always things we can all do to help."

While The Great Greenwood Giveway is for struggling families, LaPoint and Glade say it's open to all. Anyone can come, browse and take home what they want.

Read more on this story in the Sept. 30 print edition of the River Falls Journal.