In just five days, the students and staff of the East-West School of International Studies collected 1,500 pounds of non-perishable food for City Harvest, in honor of Kids Can Help Week. Although it has grown quickly since it opened five years ago, there are only 586 students in this small 6-12 international studies school in Flushing, Queens.
So how did they do it?
The East-West School represents one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in the United States. Students prepare for a career in an international world by supplementing their studies with proficiency in an Asian language. Along with this global focus, community, one of the school’s core values, is what pulls the school together. For this project, students from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds worked together to give back to their community.
“We have had much more participation this year, from staff as well as students. I didn’t even have to ask all that much. People just wanted to give,” said Candi Braverman, a teacher who has been organizing the food drive for the past four years. “We also had fantastic volunteers who helped make it happen.” Students in Ms. Braverman’s 12th grade English class gave their time to make daily announcements, cover the halls with posters, and purchase healthy food using cash donations.
The East-West School has been running an annual food drive since it opened, but this is the first year they accepted cash donations. Students who didn’t have cans of food could drop off their spare change. “Kids would stop me in the hallway and hand me money,” said Ms. Braverman.
She recalls one 7th grader who decided to donate her entire allowance of $60. “I asked her, are you sure? And she just replied, this is my money and this is what I want to do with it.”
The food drive ran from November 6 to November 10, 2010. City Harvest will distribute the food to those in need over the holiday season.