SARASOTA, FL – For 14 years, teacher Barbara O’Brien has spearheaded an annual service learning project for students at her school, benefiting The Salvation Army. This year, the first and second graders at the Hershorin Schiff Community Day School continued the proud tradition, raising $1,370, collecting goodie bags filled with books, coloring items, toys and candy, and decorating the dining hall in order to support programs and spread Thanksgiving cheer for the clients served by The Salvation Army.
The planning of the project began for teachers O’Brien, Dani Williams and Jodi Behrenfeld before the school year began and evolved of the past few months. Funds were raised through the school-wide collection of change, a donation drive and yard sale, and a lemonade stand. The final fundraising total impressed the teachers and Salvation Army representatives alike.
“This project really seems to plant a seed for community service at a young age,” said O’Brien. “It leaves an indelible memory and spirals into a lesson of compassion. I have past students return who still talk about this amazing experience.”
On November 18, the students and teachers visited The Salvation Army to present the check and drop off the goodie bags; while they were there, they decorated the dining hall with a tree with leaves painted with messages of encouragement and love, and a cheerful “Happy Thanksgiving” banner. Sharna Rozin, the assistant director of development and volunteer services at The Salvation Army, spoke about the work of the organization and explained to the children how their donation would be used to help get people off the street.
“There is a beauty in children that is expressed in contagious joy and generosity. The children of Community Day School exude this Thanksgiving spirit each year by creating community with the residents of The Salvation Army Center of Hope,” said Major Ethan Frizzell, The Salvation Army, South USA. “Can you imagine it? A small group of children raising enough funds to help one person increase their quality of life as they move from homelessness to housing. This hope is contagious throughout our Center of Hope. Thank you to the parents and community that are developing world change agents. Today you have changed the world.”
Community Day School supports its social emotional learning curriculum – which helps children to acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions – with projects like these. Teachers integrate academic skills with real-life lessons, with a heaping dose of compassion and mindfulness added in. Classroom concepts included writing/handwriting, reading and math, in addition to future business skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, marketing, teamwork, respectful communication, and global empathy.
For more information about Community Day School, go to CommunityDay.org or call (941) 552-2770.
About the Hershorin Schiff Community Day School:
The mission of the Hershorin Schiff Community Day School, which serves students in preschool through eighth grade, is to prepare students of all faiths to impact the world through academic excellence, global citizenship and compassionate action. Community Day offers a rigorous, project-based academic program in a diverse and vibrant learning environment rooted in the Jewish values of honesty, integrity, mutual trust and respect. For more information, visit the website at communityday.org or call (941) 552-2770.