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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

How a weekly breakfast at grandma’s helped students heal from the grief of losing a classmate

St. Louis — The students come together at the crack of dawn from all directions, converging on this tiny house in St. Louis, Missouri, for their weekly, Wednesday visit with 66-year-old Peggy Winckowski.

“Grandma Peggy brings everyone together,” Aaron Venneman, one of those students, told CBS News.

The students who visit Grandma Peggy attend Bishop DuBourg High School and are part of what they call the Wednesday Breakfast Club.

Seeing the extraordinary spread, it’s understandable why kids come here. But what isn’t so clear is how Winckowski got roped into hosting.

The club used to meet at a diner until one day in 2021 when a student named Sam Crowe said, “You know, my grandma could cook better than this.”

So the next Wednesday, they all showed up at Winckowski’s doorstep.

“I’m like, OK, and they came all school year — every Wednesday,” Winckowski said.

The breakfasts continued merrily until July 2022 when all joy was lost.

Peggy’s grandson, Sam Crowe, a sophomore at Bishop DuBourg, was killed in a hit-and-run. The boy was beloved, so of course, breakfast was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

And yet, the very next Wednesday, and virtually every Wednesday since, the kids have returned to Grandma Peggy’s, and in numbers far greater than before.

“Sam would be so proud,” Winckowski said. “Look at what he started.”

Everyone has come together for a heaping helping of healing.

“It melts my heart,” Winckowski said.

“It’s really not about the food, it’s just about being together,” Brendan Crowe said.

“We benefit from her, she benefits from us,” Mya Dozier added. “It’s like we feed off each other.”

Everyone grieves differently, but those who manage it best always seem to blanket themselves with kindred spirits, sharing the burden and teaching each other to laugh again. And in the process, they are building a tradition to ensure the memories are as stable and sustaining as a warm meal at grandma’s.

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