Resources to Help You Rebuild School Communities

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Teach Compassion and Collaboration: Start a Classroom Charity

Take the Harmony teachings of empathy and collaboration beyond the classroom, and out into the community. Teach your students the importance of coming together to help others in need. Here are some ideas for getting your students involved in a charity to teach lessons that will stay with them for a lifetime.

Start with a Discussion

Inform your students and their families of your intention to come together as a class to serve the community. Reach out to parents and families through the home-school connection letter for suggestions or volunteers. Some family members may already be involved with a charity, or work someplace that could use donations—like a children’s hospital, fire station, senior center, or homeless shelter.

Choose a Charity

Have the class work together to choose a charity that they want to collaboratively support. As homework, ask students to research local charities. Then, as a classroom exercise, you can list their ideas on the board and vote. This process creates an opportunity to discuss why these charities are important, and encourages students to work together for a common goal.

Contact the Charity

Once you decide on a charity to support, reach out to the director of that charity to let him or her know of your class’s interest in helping. Ask how they can get involved, and what they are most in need of—like warm coats, canned goods, or children’s toys.

Organize a Fundraiser or Drive

As a class, discuss ideas for how students can support their charity. They can organize a bake sale to raise funds, or a school-wide canned food, jacket, stuffed animal, or toy drive.

Create Assignments

Put students into groups and give each group a specific task to carry out for the fundraiser or drive. For example, one group could be in charge of getting the word out to the rest of the school by creating and hanging flyers; another group could be responsible for collecting items; another group could deliver the items to the charity (with supervision). If hosting a bake sale, ask for student volunteers to promote the event, bring baked goods, collect money, deliver the money to the charity, etc.

Discuss

After the class charity drive or fundraiser, make sure to have a discussion with students about the impact of this activity. Ask how they felt before, during, and after the event. Ask if they would do this again, and what they would do differently—maybe create a classroom competition next year. Ask how they can continue to serve the community throughout the year. Ask questions as a whole group during Meet Up, or have them discuss their answers with their partners during Buddy Up.

Children tend to be very “me-centric” by nature, and getting out into the community to lend a helping hand to those in need is a great way to teach compassion and empathy for others. Coming together for a good cause also teaches students the importance of collaboration, group work, and getting along with classmates. Conflicts may arise during the process as well, which are learning opportunities for students to work out differences and practice respecting others.