Shavya Lakhe always loved playing with blocks in OCC’s Children’s Learning Center (CLC), but in April the 5-year-old student started using them in a way he never had before. “We noticed he was building houses with them,” said CLC Director Michele Ferguson. “Our teachers asked him about it and he explained that his grandparents home in Nepal had just been destroyed by an earthquake.”
Shavya learned about the devastation during a conversation at home. “My mommy told me about the earthquake. It crushed and broke things including my grandparents house. They are okay but they are living in tents now.” The earthquake and Shavya’s grandparents became the primary topic at the CLC. It went from science-based discussions about what earthquakes were and how they happened, to good citizen-type discussions about how everyone could help. “All of our children were going home at night and speaking with their parents about it,” said Ferguson. “Our whole school community became interested and wanted to help in some way.”
The children and the CLC’s team of teachers decided to hold a fundraiser to benefit the people of Nepal. The children would bake cookies and muffins, then hold a bake sale. “The baking process was a great lesson in math and science for the children,” said Ferguson. They also got a lesson in marketing, making signs advertising the benefit to other students and their parents.
On the day of the bake sale students ran cash registers. They traded cookies for money and learned how to make change. When the bake sale was over everyone was excited to learn they had raised $162 for earthquake victims in Nepal. Anonymous donations helped raise the total to a round amount of $200.
Everyone’s hard work was rewarded June 9 when a representative of the American Red Cross came to the CLC. Tom Czajak, a grants specialist with the organization, explained to the children how their money would be spent. “All of this money will help victims in Nepal. We will use it to buy blankets, water and to help the volunteers working with the Red Cross network throughout Nepal,” he said. Local television stations CNY Central and Time Warner Cable News came as well to documents the children’s efforts.
What began as a natural disaster on the other side of the world turned into a wonderful experience for students, teachers and parents at the CLC. “We never think a child is too young to learn important lifelong lessons,” said Ferguson. “We can always help one another whether the people we are helping are here or far away.” Shavya and his family are living proof of that. “I’m happy we raised this money,” he said.