Reading can give students a peek into the lives of people who live differently from themselves. This winter at Springer School and Center, reading stories prompted students to find ways they could give to others.
When Middle School students read Linda Sue Park’s book, A Long Walk to Water, they were struck by the story of Nya, an eleven-year-old girl who walked four hours each day to bring clean water to her family. To get a sense of Nya’s experience, the students walked 2.2 miles on a rainy afternoon, carrying 18 liters of water among them. But they wanted to do something more tangible.
Calling the project “Drops in the Bucket,” the students collected their spare change, allowance money, even coins found on the sidewalk, to raise $320 in December, with which they purchased a treadle pump and a flock of chickens through Heifer International. The pump will supply clean water for a community whose members will also receive education about managing their new water resources. The chickens will provide a family the ability to be self-sustaining – supplying eggs and chickens to sell and eat. Middle School staff members were so inspired by the students’ work that they contributed to buy a goat as well, to be given to a family in need in a developing country. The students were excited to discover that a two-for-one matching grant tripled their gift to include three water pumps, flocks of chickens and goats.
Mrs. Lankford’s class of fifth-graders was also moved to action when the students read an article called The Boy Who Could Not Smile, about a boy born with a cleft palate. The article included information about Smile Train, a nonprofit that provides surgery for children with cleft. Doing chores for change, the students raised $200 which they donated to Smile Train.
Wanting to do something for people closer to home, Mrs. Lankford’s students decided to make hats and scarves for people experiencing homelessness in Cincinnati. They used circular knitting looms of various sizes to knit hats and scarves for adults and children. As they were knitting the hats, they thought of adding gifts of toiletries, gloves, socks, small blankets and snack foods. Around two dozen gifts bags with the handmade winter wear and other gifts were assembled and donated to the Homeless Coalition of Cincinnati, to be given as holiday gifts.
Each December, the entire school combines efforts to support a local organization chosen by members of Student Council. This year students collected 500 pounds of pasta, dry grains, rice and beans to be donated to La Soupe, a local organization that rescues unsold produce from grocers and transforms it into healthful meals for food insecure families. At a December 20 all-school assembly, students and staff formed a human chain that passed the donated food from the gym, outside to LaSoupe’s waiting van.
“Student Council’s annual giving project reinforces the messages emphasized in classroom work throughout the year,” said Student Council Adviser Erin Fiorito. “It’s rewarding to watch the student body take such an interest in helping others and giving back.”