A Jefferson County elementary school student’s compelling writing skills earned her and her classmates a special treat at the end of their senior year.
The student’s letter could also lead to a new McDonald’s menu item.
Nelia Gant, 7, turned an annual second grade writing assignment at Sherwood Elementary School, Arnold, into a sales pitch for the national fast food chain and asked the company to create a Happy Meal-like offering for dogs called the McPuppy Meal.
Second grade Sherwood teacher Gretchen Meyer delivered the letter to the McDonald’s location at 130 Arnold Crossroads Center, and Chris Giarla, who runs Christian Foods McDonald’s in St. Louis and runs the two Arnold locations, made Nelias Pitch a reality become.
“I walked in and my general manager was really excited and said, ‘You have to read this,'” Giarla said of the letter. “It was really cool. You don’t usually get that. I thought we had to do something.”
Neila and 10 other students – some from Sherwood and some from Simpson Elementary School – were part of a virtual classroom study online from home this year due to COVID-19 and met on May 27th in Sherwood, where they Both McPuppy Meals and Happy Meals were surprised.
“I didn’t know it was going to happen,” said Nelia. “I liked it very much and I liked that I got free food.”
Giarla said he shared Nelia’s letter and a report on what Arnold McDonald’s did to create the food for dogs with the restaurant chain’s corporate headquarters.
“You never know,” said Giarla of a McPuppy meal that became part of the McDonald’s menu. “I think that’s a cute idea. I think Nelia has something under control. “
In a story the Fox C-6 School District posted about the event on its website, Sherwood Elementary School principal Jessica Meeks said second grade students write compelling letters every year as part of the English language arts curriculum.
In the letter, Nelia wrote, “Dogs should be able to have a good meal of fun food and toys like me!”
She said if the company made McPuppy meals, people could buy them to reward their dogs for good behavior.
“If your dog is fine, you can buy him this treat” so that “dogs can have fun” and just because “dogs can’t drive” shouldn’t be left out.
“Usually students write to me asking for more breaks or no homework, but Nelia has definitely steered this project in a different direction,” said Meeks.
Nelia’s mother, Jeanna Samblanet, 34, of Arnold, said the typing assignment and classroom delivery of the McPuppy meals had boosted her daughter’s confidence after a difficult school year.
Nelia moved from the Lindbergh School District to the Fox C-6 School District before the start of the 2020-2021 school year, and due to the pandemic, the family decided to study from home. Samblanet said the family plan for Nelia to attend third grade classes in person at the beginning of the next school year in August.
“It’s a blessing that this has happened,” said Samblanet. “She was recognized for the writing skills she learned and developed over the year, and she made friends. It was a good end to a confusing situation. “
Nelia’s father Ryan Gant, 29, of
Affton said he was proud of his daughter’s achievement. “A dream came true for her and shocking to me,” said Ryan. “It was remarkable and breathtaking that someone took note of my child’s letter and gave her the time of day.”
Giarla helped deliver the Happy Meals and McPuppy Meals to Sherwood, 1769 Missouri State Road.
Nelia and her classmates brought their dogs and each student received a Happy Meal and McPuppy Meal. The dogs’ food was in a bag labeled “McPuppy Meal” and adorned with dog prints and the McDonald’s logo. The meal included dog snacks, a chew toy in the shape of a cheetah, raccoon, or fox, a leash, and a bone.
“It was cool,” said Nelia.
Giarla handed Nelia her letter, framed and mounted on a background, with the McDonald’s Christian Foods logo on it.
“It was the best hour of my week,” said Giarla of the meeting. “She helped me have a better day. It was really fun to do. I hope it’s a fond memory for her and I’m glad we made a big deal out of it. “