During this festive time of year, many of us enjoy holiday gatherings, gift giving, and time with family and friends. The holiday season should also be a time of reflection and it’s an opportunity to instill in our students the importance of “giving back.” I’m pleased with the productivity of our recent Middle School Service Projects, which I saw firsthand contribute to a sense of camaraderie and philanthropy among our students. On the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving, Middle School students made 1,100 sandwiches for Camillus House. They were responsible for bringing in a loaf bread, sun butter, jelly and sandwich bags, but it was the time they spent together making each sandwich that created a sense of community. Students also supported REAP Latin America, an organization helping children have access to clean water and food. They packaged 9,400 meals for those in need in Venezuela. They also made 200 paracord bracelets for soldiers via Operation Gratitude.
Aside from their Service Day on November 20th, the Middle School implemented a year-long initiative called the Tribes Program based on their reading of the book A Long Walk to Water. Their objective is to raise $15,000 to build a well in South Sudan to supply water to surrounding villages. The students are divided into groups (Tribes) and tasked with fundraising strategies to achieve this goal.
As educators, we’ve learned that weaving these types of projects into the programming helps to encourage empathy among the student body and foster a mindset that results in growth of character. Cushman students have always been reputed to demonstrate civic responsibility and ultimately make a difference now and later in life.
– Jennifer Geimer