Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
A little while ago, we told you about Malletts Bay School’s efforts to help their fellow Vermonters in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Since then, MBS students have gained even further insight about not only charitable giving initiatives but also what it really takes to create truly lasting change.
On November 3, John Cronin, the community campaign manager for the United Way of Chittenden County, met with the MBS students who chose the recipients for the funds they’d raised for Vermont victims of Hurricane Irene, one of which was the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund. The United Way has partnered with the Vermont Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VT VOAD) and Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) to support victims of Hurricane Irene’s flooding in their long-term recovery after emergency relief agencies like the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have completed their work in the state. The long-term support was very important to students, and it significantly influenced their decision about where to direct the $2,500 they’d raised.
Cronin asked the students to explain their rationale for undertaking the project and how they raised the money, one-third of which they earmarked for the Disaster Relief Fund. The students spoke of those they knew who had been affected by the flooding and about how fortunate we were to avoid significant damage from the storm.
To describe how the United Way and the Disaster Fund will use the money it collected, Cronin provided an interesting visual by laying out a series of jars—representing some of the things toward which people might donate money to help children and families in these situations—labeled with such words as “illiteracy,” “poverty,” “no job,” “children left alone,” and so on. Giving each student a quarter, he told them that they could either keep their quarter or donate it to address one of the issues that the labeled jars represented. All of the students carefully considered their options and placed their quarter into one of the jars.
Afterward, when Cronin held up each jar—some of which had several quarters and some had none—students had an “Ah-ha!” moment, realizing that, by only addressing some of the problems, their money wouldn’t effectively create lasting change in the community. Taking one more jar labeled “Change” from his pocket, Cronin explained that an organization like the United Way strategically utilizes donated funds in order to effectively address the problems across the community and state. The students then asked if they could transfer their quarters to the “Change” jar, thereby pooling their resources to ensure that their investments provided solutions to each issue.
In a closing conversation about generosity and giving, Cronin expressed how impressed he was that none of the students chose to keep the quarter. Assistant Principal Carolyn Millham reminded students that, while many of us in this area were spared much of the damage from Hurricane Irene, we may not be so fortunate the next time. MBS students worked hard to donate $785 to the VT Disaster Relief Fund to help others when they could—and they realize that they may need the generosity of others in the future. Cronin and Assistant Principal Millham expressed their sincere gratitude to the students for their efforts.
While the group consisted of those who made the final decision about where the donations would go, including Hannah Safer, Adell Gadzey, Anna Dean, Kaitlyn Small, Sofia Maceri, Ella Avdic, Evan Bokelberg, and Catherine Jones, many other students contributed by coming up with the idea of a coin drop, making posters, and writing announcements. This truly was a school-wide initiative.
This seems a particularly appropriate article to publish in light of tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday. Way to go, ospreys!
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