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Communities that KARE: Kids get real world experience at Donatelli's

Students from Willow Lane Elementary spend a day working in the food business, learning new schools and meeting new people.

ST PAUL, Minn. — A lot of us learn better by "doing." That's the philosophy that led 5th graders from Willow Lane Elementary to Donatelli's, where they work in the the kitchen, behind the counter and wait tables.

Leigh Anderson takes her lessons out of the classroom and into Donatelli's restaurant in St. Paul.

Anderson helps her kids write cover letters and resumes, and prepares them for an interview. Then they spend a day working for Trish Appleby and Steven Donatelle.

"They'll come in and they're nervous like the dickens when they first start," says Steven. But the kids quickly shake off the nerves.

Sophia says they're smiling and talking to customers, interacting with different people than they would in a normal school day.

By the end of their shift, she says, "they're all excited and they learn something and it's just, it's just dynamite."

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The restaurant takes on additional costs to make sure there's enough staff to help train the kids. Despite the costs, Steven says it's worth it.

The lessons learned throughout a day in the food business, while only in 5th grade, will last a life time.

"So as they grow older, these are the things you look back on. they'll look back on and say that was a great time," says Steven.

The kids get so much out of the program, he says they come back and apply when they're old enough to get a job.

The students donate a portion of their tips to HopeKids an organization that provides ongoing activities for families who have a child impacted by a life-threatening medical condition.

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