Toward the end of last school year, I had the privilege of speaking at Redding Elementary School (RES) in Redding, Connecticut.
Many schools across the country participate in the One Book, One School program, where every classroom reads the same book and each student then takes the book home to read. RES is one of those schools. The book they selected was Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming. It is a beautiful story that illustrates just how giving grows and shows the strength of relationships we can form with complete strangers from anywhere in the world, through giving.
When I was asked to speak, I had no idea just how inspired I would be from the entire experience. That school and those students embodied everything that is kindness and respect and giving. It impacted me just as much as I hope the day impacted them.
After the teachers and administrators announced the selected book, I spoke to grades K-5 about my definition of giving and the waves of giving that can grow from one small act. The town meeting was completed with a school-wide cheer of "giving starts with me!" and everyone returned to their classrooms.
And then I (the giving fairy, of sorts) walked around the school and handed every teacher a givingJAR for each classroom. The kids cheered and I was overwhelmed by their excitement and gratitude.
The classes learned a lesson in teamwork as they constructed a givingJAR that represented their classroom and came up with their first decision on how and where to give.
After the event, some of the classes shared with me their plans for giving; buying supplies for Greenwich Hospital, donating money to a local high school student who was paralyzed in a car accident for stem cell research, buying ingredients to bake cookies, donating money to Save the Children, to name a few. Incredible, right?
I couldn't have asked for a warmer welcome or more inspiring day. Kids can do amazing giving!
Extra special thanks to Brian Dayton for making this happen and to Liz Caruso for the beautiful photos!