TNCS Continues Annual Service to the Community with Project Linus

tncs-community-outreach-initiatives

Please drop off new or gently used coat donations to TNCS by December 12, 2016 in TNCS’s reception area.

The run up to the holiday season is always a special time at The New Century School because it’s an opportunity to show our support to our local community and beyond. In the month of November, TNCS has undertaken two outreach initiatives to benefit our neighbors in need, first with the 6th annual healthy food drive for Beans & Bread (through St. Vincent de Paul) in conjunction with United Way of Central Maryland, and second with the coat drive for CASA de Maryland, a nonprofit that works with low-income Latino immigrant families. Please note that this latter initiative is ongoing through December 12, 2016, and a donation box is located in TNCS’s reception area.

img_0089This year, though, is special for a new effort. On November 18th, as part of their Service learning, TNCS upper elementary and middle school students teamed up with Project Linus, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide homemade blankets to sick and hospitalized children in need—to “provide security through blankets” and “spread blanket hugs nationwide.” Head of School Alicia Danyali and Parent Council Head Sakina Ligon both have experience with Project Linus and felt it was a great fit for TNCS.

Ms. Ligon explained in an email to parents that “volunteerism teaches basic character foundations to children, and having them help other children teaches them that people in need are really just like them. Studies have shown that serving as volunteers promotes healthy lifestyle and choices, enhances development, teaches life skills, promotes citizenship, improves the community, and encourages a lifelong service ethic in children ages 5 to 14 years. The value of volunteering teaches your children the importance of donating their time, a core value at TNCS.”

img_0084On the day TNCS students became “blanketeers,” a school tour group happened to be coming through and were duly impressed by the service-learning-in-action they witnessed. Baltimore City/Baltimore County Chapter Coordinator Fay Husted instructed the 4th-, 5th-, and 6th-graders on how to produce the blankets. Mrs. Hutchens was a teacher and principal in Baltimore City schools for 37 years and now devotes her time to Project Linus.

Said Mrs. Husted:

Project Linus us a national organization with chapters all over the country. Being a chapter coordinator means being very organized because hundreds of people make blankets for me—individuals as well as school, church, and senior groups. We accept quilts and fleece, knitted, and crocheted blankets. When we get the blankets to our storage facility, a group of about 10 ladies help me sew in handmade Project Linus labels. Once we get the labels in the blankets, I bag them, and my husband and I deliver them all over Baltimore City—mostly to hospitals, but also to Ronald McDonald House, Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House at Johns Hopkins, House of Ruth, shelters, and some camps. We deliver between 200 and 250 blankets a month.

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Fay Husted

Project Linus was established in Parker, Colorado on December 24, 1995 and has delivered more than 6 million blankets nationwide to grateful kids in the going-on 21 years since. “Project Linus is a wonderful organization. A non-profit is considered good if 13% or less of their donations are used for administrative purposes. Less than 7% of ours are,” explained Mrs. Husted, “because everybody is a volunteer.” Other than some monthly and annual maintenance fees, such as for the right to use Charles Schultz’s thumb-sucking, blanket-carrying, sage-beyond-his-years character as their mascot, they operate with very little overhead.

From dozens of available patterns, Mrs. Husted chose Fringed Fleece Blanket that can be made very quickly for TNCS students. Here’s how they did it!

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img_0106Said Mrs. Danyali, “the students are going to write notes of encouragement to go along with the blankets they make.” One fifth grader commented that she was very glad to participate in a project that would help kids in need. Another, with obvious sincerity, said he wanted to make his blanket as good as he possibly could.

With leftover material, students can make additional items like headbands during Teacher’s Choice time.

For past years’ initiatives, such as primary classrooms collecting dimes to purchase and donate livestock through Heifer International, see Lessons in Gratitude at TNCS, Lessons in Thanksgiving at TNCS, and TNCS Holiday Outreach Programs.

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!