“Especially after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, it’s important to remember how easy it can be to make a difference in someone else’s life,” notes Parent Ambassador Colleen Aker. Obviously those in need will benefit from the school’s community service programs, but parents and children are positively affected as well. “The Community Service Program at Princeton Montessori School is helping me to raise a grateful and generous child,” says Elizabeth Bergman, whose toddler is new to the Princeton Montessori School this year. “Participating in these events throughout the year reminds us how fortunate we are, and how much we can help. I’m so glad that charity is among the many things my daughter will learn at school.”
The Community Service Program kicked off this September with an ice-cream social. Parents and students came back to school bearing foodstuffs for Crisis Ministry of Trenton. Each class contributed something in particular, as requested by Crisis Ministry: toddlers brought shelf-stable milk and cereal; Middle School families brought boxes of mac and cheese. “We’ve always done some service events at school,” Aker notes, “but now it’s come together as a cohesive program. We wanted to begin right at the beginning of the school year.” Eight large boxes of food were donated, along with over $250 dollars in cash; the supplies were especially welcome in the wake of a devastating fire at Crisis Ministry last December.
This December, Princeton Montessori is holding a toy drive, partnering with Toys for Tots. Unlike other such drives, families are asked to consider donating educational gifts such as art supplies, board games, and creative toys of lasting value. This is in keeping with the Montessori educational philosophy, so-named for Maria Montessori (1870–1952)
In addition, a holiday Giving Line will benefit Martin House, part of the Catholic Youth Organization. On a garland stretching down the hall, toddlers and their parents are stringing new mittens and hats; preschool and elementary children are collecting their donations as a class, and hanging them up together. “Both the children and the parents enjoy the process of hanging the mittens, hats, and scarves on the Holiday Giving garland,” says Sally Kuppek, a Princeton Montessori parent in charge of the project. “It’s exciting for the entire community to watch the garland fill up more each day. When the children leave for winter break, just before the holidays, they know they’ve helped others in need.”
Students in the Elementary and Middle School programs will collect all of the winter clothing on the school stage to see how each one gift adds up to an impressive pile. Thus they learn the real impact of individual effort and collective action.
New this year is a Valentine’s Day of Service that will produce 300 dinner bags for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). Toddler and primary students (3-6 years old) will decorate lunch bags to be filled with donations from the entire school, including utensil sets, a canned or boxed entrée, juice, fruit cups, and pudding for dessert. On February 14, students will put the bags together for TASK to pick up.
And at the end of the school year, students will contribute personal products (toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo, lotions and the like) to Crisis Ministry. And finally in the summer of 2013, students and parents will prepare for a new school year by donating school supplies to Homefront.
“The year’s community service events allow parents to share with their children the value of helping others in need,” says Joanne Harnack, Director of Community Affairs at the school. It also extends the Princeton Montessori School philosophy of supporting the development of the whole child and setting the foundation for children to discover purposeful, responsible, fulfilling lives.
To learn more about the Community Service project at Princeton Montessori School, or Montessori education in general, please contact Joanne Hartnack at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 924–4594.