May 9, 2012:
Albert Einstein Academies, Elementary School
San Diego, CA
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give."
Giving without expecting something in return is one of the mantras students of Albert Einstein Academies Elementary Charter School in San Diego truly take to heart. Throughout the year, the International Baccalaureate school organizes a number of community service projects, including feeding the hungry, raising funds to build wells in Africa, and sponsoring children in Guatemala.
One in particular made a big difference to students this year. The students came together in the spring and organized a massive donation of school supplies to a needy school in South Africa. Founding Principal Luci Flowers is on a missionary trip there, and saw the need at one particular school, the Phakamile Primary School located outside of Johannesburg.
"We knew we wanted to help, and we could've done it through a monetary donation, but we really felt that these were children that perhaps had never received a package in the mail or opened a gift. We decided to let the students of Einstein put the project together and make it happen," said Principal Jeannette Vaughn.
Vaughn put a slide show together, using pictures from the South African school and comparing it to Einstein. She presented this to students during an assembly, where students saw that their South African counterparts did not have school supplies or even a playground. For lunch--which is for many their only meal of the day--they ate an oatmeal-type meal.
"Our students really got the chance to see how other people their age live and they took the project on without hesitation. We try to instill in them a sense of giving to others and to think about what is their responsibility in this world," added Vaughn.
The project took about one month to complete from start to finish.
Students from each classroom brainstormed about the supplies they wanted to send. The 18 boxes Phakamile received included, among other things, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, notebooks, reading books, and even jump ropes and balls.
In Amelia Isa's second grade class, for instance, they added their own personal touch.
"We each wrote letters to the students in South Africa with our names, pictures of us, and things we like, and we wrote questions for them, to see what they do, what kind of games they play, how do they like school...it was fun and very inspiring!" said the articulate 2nd grader to CCSA.
"The ideas just started flying after the initial assembly, and the students were so excited and enthusiastic about helping," said Nicola Cooper, Amelia's teacher. "It was a great experience, and these kids learned how happy they can make other people, even those that are far away and that perhaps they will never meet in person. They are heroes in the making."
After the supplies arrived at Phakamile, Luci Fowers made a video to thank the Einstein Elementary students, and show them the difference they made.
"I loved the video, and seeing everyone smiling. It made me think that they would do the same for us. I learned that we need to help each other, and I want to do this again with my family, and help other people in other states and lands. It's something that anyone can do!" said Amelia.