TNCS Holiday Outreach Programs

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

Meshack's 70-year-old grandmother raises him and supports their family.

Meshack’s 70-year-old grandmother raises him and supports their family.

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

Meanwhile, primary students had their own outreach going, this one aiming a little closer to home. Primary teachers led by Mrs. Lazarony organized a Mitten Tree and winter clothing drive for the International Rescue Committee of Baltimore. The IRC helps refugees, such as from Darfour and the Sudan, get familiar with Baltimore life by providing educational and financial assistance as well as aid for food, clothing, and shelter. “At work today in over 40 countries and in 22 U.S. cities, the IRC restores safety, dignity, and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure. The IRC leads the way from harm to home.” TNCS has worked with this organization in the past with great success.

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?

If you didn’t have a chance to participate in either of these drives, or if you are simply compelled to give some more, opportunities abound! Beginning January 6th and going through January 24th, Mrs. Lawson is heading up another primary outreach program. Last year’s Dimes Drive for Heifer International was such a success that primary classes will once again be collecting dimes to purchase livestock for indigent families. “The children get very excited about this outreach,” says Mrs. Lawson, as last year’s photos below show. “We did it last year, and the children raised over $500. With this money the children were able to buy a cow for a family in South America.”

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.

TNCS Gives Thanks by Giving Back

Beans & Bread---it's not only the nutritionally perfect combination of protein and carbohydrate, but it suggests new possibilities, just as Jack's magic beans opened up a new world via his giant beanstalk.

Beans & Bread—it’s not only the nutritionally perfect combination of protein and carbohydrate, but it suggests new possibilities, just as Jack’s magic beans opened up a new world via his giant beanstalk.

With the autumn holiday season gearing up, The New Century School is counting blessings, taking stock of its manifold accomplishments, and looking for ways to share its good fortune with the surrounding community. So, just as TNCS did last year, we are once again hosting a food drive from 11/13 through 11/22 to donate to St. Vincent de Paul’s Beans & Bread program. Head of School Alicia Danyali says, “We chose Beans & Bread because they are close to the school, and we feel strongly that giving back should be kept in the neighborhood or in close proximity to what would make a difference locally.” TNCS is participating in a measurable way in keeping Fell’s Point viable and sustaining.

“Beans & Bread is a comprehensive day resource program that offers a complete range of supportive services designed to help individuals attain stabilization and self-sufficiency. Services are client-centered and focused in four core areas:  housing, employment, health, and recovery,” according to their website. TNCS is making it extremely convenient for us to assist with these very worthy pursuits. Simply bring your donatable food items to drop off in boxes placed outside the school office when you come for your parent–teacher conferences in the coming 2 weeks. “I cannot remember how much we collected last year,” says Ms. Danyali, “but I know we filled an SUV to the brim when delivering the goods! This year, I hope every family at TNCS can participate and donate a minimum two items from the needs list, if possible.”

Emphasize low-fat, low-sugar, whole-grain foods that you would serve your own family! A copy of this list was sent home in your child's school bag.

Emphasize low-fat, low-sugar, whole-grain foods that you would serve your own family! A copy of this list was sent home in your child’s school bag.

Sounds eminently doable! Partnering with United Way of Central Maryland’s Healthy Food Initiative, Beans & Bread asks for food items to be those that you would serve to your own family. Also, choose whole-grain and low-fat options when possible, avoiding sugar-added and sweetened food and drinks.

True to form, the TNCS community is finding other ways to demonstrate their inherent altruism. Such creative and inspiring acts include donating surplus Halloween candy to deployed armed forces, for example. Another idea that caught on like wildfire among TNCS families was asking for charitable donations in lieu of birthday gifts at kids’ parties. Local hunger charities (such as Beans & Bread and Our Daily Bread) welcome canned goods collected at these parties, or cast your net more broadly and request small monetary donations to buy livestock through Heifer International, as one family did. Not only do the beneficiaries of these donations see immediate life improvement and empowerment, but your kids get the lifelong reward of learning to share and give. It’s wonderful to see how they so naturally welcome the idea, even when it means giving up birthday presents!

Howsoever you decide to share your wealth, remember that you will actually derive personal benefit from your selflessness—a beautiful paradox! Being altruistic is a  recognized happiness inducer!

Proceeds from our 5th birthday party went to Our Daily Bread! We were so happy that our friends helped us feed our Baltimore neighbors, and we enjoyed meeting the volunteers at ODB and seeing their huge kitchen :)!

Proceeds from our 5th birthday party went to Our Daily Bread! We were so happy that our friends helped us feed our Baltimore neighbors, and we enjoyed meeting the volunteers at ODB and seeing their huge kitchen :)!

Giving Back: TNCS Kids and Heifer International

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.

today's snack is special---latkes and applesauce made by the kids right in their classroom

. . . Later, the fascinated kids got to sample homemade latkes garnished with applesauce—YUM!

holidays include Hanukkah latkes and other cultural customs at TNCS

A rapt TNCS audience listens to Mrs. Cooper-Danyali read about Hanukkah latkes . . .

student poses proudly with her holiday practical life work

I trimmed this little tree all by myself!

student works his way to the smallest doll, while strengthening hand muscles and learning persistence

Having multilayered holiday fun with a Matryoshka doll—S-RazhdestvOm!

these popcorn and cranberry garlands will decorate trees on TNCS grounds for natural ornamentation and snacks for visiting birds

A kindergartner strings popcorn to drape on a tree for birds visiting the school grounds. Cranberry garlands were also presented to the lucky birds!

playing with the dreidel is fun and educational

A spectator pops in to check on how the dreidel game is going. All clear!

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!

estimating number of dimes by weighing the sack to determine how much money TNCS primary students will donate to Heifer International

A student weighs the sack of dimes to estimate how many it contains. Laughter ensues as some pretty wild guesses are thrown out!

TNCS kindergartners get the mathematically challenging task of counting thousands of dimes to donate to Heifer International

Counting the dimes takes all hands on deck!

TNCS kindergartners all worked together to roll the thousands of dimes to donate to Heifer International

Rolling dimes is hard work—sheesh!

TNCS kindergartners have rolled and counted $385 worth of dimes to donate to Heifer International

So far we have raised $385!!!!! Fist pump!!!!

TNCS kindergartners proudly package their dimes to donate to Heifer International

The dimes keep on “rolling” in!

TNCS kindergartners collected $520 and were able to donate a cow and a flock of chickens to a family in need through Heifer International

Ultimately, the kids collected $520—enough for a cow and a flock of chickens!

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.

—Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha
Kindly let us know your thoughts in the comments section—we love to hear from you!