In 1976, George Harrison released an album called “Crackerbox Palace” inspired by a man called Mr. Grief. The track of the same name was a big hit at the time, and had a long lasting impact. The meaning of “Crackerbox Palace” is basically about how the world can be a very serious place, especially for children in poverty, but at the same time we have to try to make it a lighter and happier place throughout our lives. Even if that impact is small.
The story of our company, Crackerbox Incorporated, began back in January when Mr. Downs’s freshman Global Civics class was told we were going to take part in a semester long project. This project was created by a man who traded a paper clip for larger items until he was able to trade for a house. While our goal was to help others and not ourselves, the basis of our work was still centered around trading.
We were thrown together into a group of five and told to create a long lasting sustainable good. We considered how each group member excelled in different aspects and we divided our jobs: boys, Kevin, David, and Ben, were responsible for most of the trades, while girls, Sydney and Maren, were in charge of all the documents. The documents included keeping track of things such as our trading progress, as well as creating advertisements and slogans. We were handed a homemade Providence Day School paperclip, and told to start trading. We didn’t have a leader in our group. That was not because no one had the courage to take the responsibility, but because we felt that everyone was equal, and should get their part of the work done. We also felt that no one person should be in charge of an important issue like this. Throughout the project, we found out this was the best decision we made as a group. This helped to make the decision making process much easier, in other words, working more efficiently. Our group did face some struggles, and like other groups we argued “who should do what” or “what to do.” However we quickly were able to begin our process.
Our efficient work style helped in the decision making process of choosing whom we were aiming to help. Although it took us about half an hour to weigh the pros and cons, our goal to benefit the community around us was the same. We considered helping the hungry, homeless people, and abuse victims until eventually, Maren proposed the issue of childhood poverty, which was agreed upon by all. We all knew how privileged we were to attend a school like Providence Day, and that most kids didn’t even have pencils to write with. This was the start of our journey; collecting school supplies for little kids.
The first few weeks were rough, as we found ourselves trying to “get rid of” the paper clip at the end of the week. Thankfully, after asking many teachers at school, Ben got some lovely sticky notes from Mrs. Bynum. That raised our profit to roughly $1.50. While small in value, it was a huge step in our trading project.
One week, David managed to find a crying teddy bear notebook. This notebook was no average composition notebook from Target or Walmart. This was a hardcore, very sad looking bear with large, slightly frightening red eyes painted onto a notebook. We went through many struggles with this notebook, as no one really wanted to take it. We talked to teachers, neighbors, really anyone we could find. Finally, after weeks of hard work, we convinced Mr. Mehigan to give us a composition notebook, although he didn’t want the bear notebook. This was the time that we realized that only having the notebook wasn’t enough. What was important was the story behind the notebook. This notebook symbolizes one of our biggest struggles as a group, similar in a way to the struggles of the very kids we were trying to help. An obstacle that we had to push past to continue on the path to our goal.
People are always talking about poverty. Initially, we tended to think the same way, that school supplies or gift cards could change a poor child’s life. However, after fifteen weeks had passed, when we were trading day by day, we further realized that only if those little kids began to realize how school affected their future, could they truly get out of poverty. Without education, these families get trapped in a never ending cycle of poverty. When someone doesn’t graduate high school or go to college, it becomes very difficult to find a job. This all leads back to not having the proper supplies to succeed as a small child. Kids need these things, no matter how small they may seem. A pencil to write with, crayons to help their imaginations prosper, putty to help them focus in class, everything has a small, but key role in determining their future. In the end, we donated all of our school supplies to the Students for South Africa club to help the children at Red Hill preschool better their lives, and futures.
Our goal was to not just collect school supplies, but to show children how while the world can be a serious and sad place, we have to try and make it better by getting past our obstacles, and succeeding in life.
“Some times are good, some times are bad
That’s all a part of life. ”
To view Crackerbox, Inc’s mid-semester advertisement, click here.