As 2012 drew to a close, The New Century School students had the holidays on their minds. They played the dreidel game, trimmed trees, and put on a holiday show for parents. They ate latkes and applesauce and strung popcorn garlands.
But amidst all the festivities and the jolly atmosphere, they didn’t lose sight of core TNCS values. Environmental sustainability, social involvement from community through global levels, and human compassion informed their daily activities, giving a special resonance to their merry-making. With the help of their teachers, they collaborated on an important project to donate livestock to a family in need through Heifer International.
“Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth,” states the Heifer International website. But, “it all started with a cow.” In the 1930s, an American named Dan West volunteering in wartorn parts of Western Europe put the “Give a man a fish, you have fed him for today; teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime” proverb to work in a new way. He saw that by giving people cows, they would have a replenishable milk source. Their nutrient requirements would be satisfied in both the short and the long terms. Thus, Heifer International was born.
Eighty years later, the development nonprofit organization has expanded to all reaches of the globe and continues to nourish the world. TNCS kids were thrilled to be part of this altruistic work and experience the joy of giving firsthand! In Operation Donate your Dimes, primary teachers (Mr. Sellers, Mrs. Lawson, Mr. Warren, and Ms. Lazarony) asked their students to collect dimes and bring them to class over a 2-week period in December. As the mountain of coins grew, rising K’s and kindergartners were assigned to estimating, then counting, then rolling them, and, finally, graphing progress toward the goal. Said teachers:
As we start to see how much money we can raise, the children are going to vote on what animals they want to buy. They will be doing projects and games to help them understand what the money is going for. We hope that you will be willing to help us with this project. The more dimes we collect, the more animals we can buy!
It was an exciting way to get the kids involved in community service while honing math skills, working as a group, and exploring the deeper meaning of the holiday season. They can feel glad for the family they have helped, and they will not likely forget this experience. It was an important lesson for our budding philanthropists.
Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, may it bring you joy, warmth, and peace.