The Greatest Gift is Giving: Other Ways to Give Back
We've interviewed the founder of Operation: Social Santa, Harrison Kratz, to talk to us about the importance of giving, and Makefield Elementary principal Donna Mccormick-Miller, to learn how to get students excited. Today, we talk about other ways to give back.
Toy donations help both parents and children alike, as they raise childrens’ spirits and alleviate stress for families struggling to make ends meet. Especially at this time of the year, donating toys is an important and worthwhile way to contribute positively to social good.
But there are also many other ways to give back to those in need--each as meaningful as the next. As long as you’re giving, and instilling the importance of giving in your students, that’s what matters. Here are just a few ways you can make a difference in somebody’s life this holiday season:
During the holidays it becomes even more important to donate clothing as the weather becomes harsher and colder. Not every person can afford a new coat to get them through the winter months, and there are many who are in need of the basics as well: warm socks, scarves, gloves, or hats. The homeless are especially impacted by the cold, as are the sick and the elderly.
Donate clothes to your church, the Salvation Army, or local clothing drive. Teachers can talk to their principals about what their school can do to collect warm clothes for the underprivileged.
Through the network of parents, families, community members, and staff, schools that organize drives are often able to raise a lot. In smaller communities, especially, schools may very well be the largest source of donations for people who need warm clothes.
For people and families who are going hungry, the need for food is absolutely critical, and as with the need for clothing, that necessity is exacerbated during the winter. Food drives can either be held to benefit the local community or national groups dedicated to fighting hunger. The most common items donated are canned goods and non-perishable items, as they can be stored for longer periods of time.
Feeding America is the nation’s largest organization for combating hunger, and has an array of resources for getting involved, including a helpful Food Bank Locator to find a place in your community. Schools Fight Hunger is an excellent resource to get classrooms active, and they offer a free toolkit to help teachers start a drive in their school.
While those in need would benefit greatly from food, clothing, toys, and other material necessities, there’s something to be said for the benefits of human contact and personal interaction. It’s good for their morale, and it’s good for yours.
One of Operation: Social Santa’s key values is the importance of following up--of actually interacting with the people you help and seeing the impact you have. Is there a better way to do this than volunteering?
This season, consider donating some of your time to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, feeding the hungry and being a comforting presence. You can spend time at a nursing home or assisted living facility, keeping people company by reading to them, playing games, or just talking. Hospital volunteers are especially needed during the holidays to help cheer up the patients.
There are opportunities all around you for volunteering your time to help the less fortunate. If you’re not sure where to look, local community groups, churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions organize service projects. You can also go directly to your local hospital, homeless shelter, food pantry, or soup kitchen to see what help they need. The Internet has some great tools for finding volunteer opportunities, including VolunteerMatch.org and the government’s Corporation for National & Community Service.
For teachers looking for ways to engage their students with community service, talk to your principal to see if there are any projects they can get involved in. As such an important part of the community, schools are well connected and a great source of information.
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The National Center on Time and Learning and the Ford Foundation recently announced their plans to help high-needs schools catch up on standardized test scores, as well as reap the advantages of electives and enrichment activities rarely offered to their students. The idea? With the aid of grant money, schools will lengthen the school day and year by approximately 300 hours. The anticipated start for the plan is the 2013-14 school year.
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Our friends at Operation: Social Santa have made tremendous strides in ensuring that every child has a joyful holiday season. Since their inception in 2010, they have raised over 7,000 toys, operating in 38 cities and organizing far-reaching social media campaigns to rouse communities to action.
Operation: Social Santa is one of many nationwide holiday drives, and each plays an important role in meeting the needs of underprivileged families across America. People choose to give to different places for different reasons: some chose based on location, others chose because an organization works for a cause that is …
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This blog was originally published on Finding Common Ground at Education Week by Peter DeWitt on December 10, 2012 3:09 P.M.
As an elementary school teacher I was required to provide homework to students every night except for Fridays. During school vacations we were required, yes...required, to provide packets of math and ELA to students. Every vacation I gave my first graders packets of dittos that they had to complete before they returned. I was young, inexperienced and untenured. I cringe at the fact that I provided that experience to students at such a young age.
There were times when homework took longer than 20 minutes.
Yes, I asked all the right questions.