Even amidst the hustle and scramble leading up to the holidays, taking a moment to remember those less fortunate is terribly important. In fact, it’s what the holidays are really all about . . . giving. This year, instead of exchanging gifts or doing Secret Santas, The New Century School organized several outreach programs to give students an opportunity to do some actual good in the world, both locally and internationally. Says primary teacher Mrs. Lawson, “We choose this time of year to do our outreach because kids are so busy thinking about what they want. We want them to also look in the other direction.”
Change for Change
Elementary students raised money for children in Kenya through ChildFund International, whose mission is “to help deprived, excluded, and vulnerable children living in poverty have the capacity to become young adults, parents, and leaders who bring lasting and positive change to their communities.” Elementary teachers Ms. DuPrau and Ms. Roberts cleverly incorporated math into this lesson in giving by having students not only collect spare change and bring it in but also by counting the totals they amassed. A very pleased Ms. DuPrau said, “We collected a total of $300.60! That is enough money to feed 50 children. We doubled our goal!” In Kenya, 50% of the population exists below the poverty line. This includes young children like Meshack, who typically subsists on black tea and maize paste (called ugali) only twice daily. Even so, at only 5 years old, Meshack loves writing and wants to be a teacher when he grows up. The money that elementary students raised will help kids like Meshack get more and better nutrition—fuel to help realize some of those childhood dreams!
Helping Hands Collect Mittens
In a 2-week period in December, primary families donated hats, scarves, mittens, and other new or gently used winter apparel. On December 20th, a “tickled” Mrs. Lazarony rounded up 11 bags of clothing and took them to the Baltimore IRC headquarters. “Their faces lit up,” described Mrs. Lazarony, “They were so grateful.” These clothing items will be distributed through a “free store,” which is open three times a week for members to obtain up to 15 items per visit, free of charge. “Despite the short amount of time available for our drive,” said Mrs. Lazarony proudly, “TNCS families really rose to the occasion.”
Want To Help?
Here, too, the lesson is not just in giving but also cultivates some arithmetic skills. “The Kindergarten class will be counting the dimes and rolling them. Please send in only dimes, to make it easier for the children to count,” says Mrs. Lawson. She remembers last year’s generosity fondly, recounting how some of her students brought in their whole piggy banks. The change they can make is staggering. Heifer International‘s mission states, “We empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity—but our approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps brings sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Our animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs, and honey can be traded or sold at market.”
Finally, this happens to be an ideal time to give back. Many organizations have matching donations at this time of year, and all donations are, of course, tax deductible. The IRC says donate by 12/31/13 and your gift will be twice doubled by generous friends of the IRC. Donate here. If you prefer to donate clothing, please note that small- and medium-size men’s clothing is in especially high demand.
To donate to ChildFund International, click here.
To donate funds or livestock through Heifer International, click here.
However you decide to show your compassion this season, don’t forget to involve the kids. Although children very naturally identify with toys, animals, others, etc., they are hardwired to worry first about themselves. Setting an example of treating others kindly will foster empathy in your child.