Our Mitzvah project has been running 16 years and is one of the highlights of our school year. We started this project while we were studying the weather in science and economics in Social Studies. Our students realized that when we had inclement weather there were people who had nowhere to go. They knew if they work hard they could help.
The first and second graders spent a week preparing for a trip to the Salvation Army. They colored and cut fruit to decorate a large wall mural of a cornucopia. They also made 3 hand painted murals with hand written messages from our children to the families at Salvation Army. They made 30 goody bags for kids that were filled with candy, coloring pages, and toys inside. They worked hard to create beautiful decorations so the dining room of the Salvation Army would look festive. As a class we also sent paper leaves to all the kids in our school community, we gathered over 200 messages to create a tree of hope in the dining room. We also collected donations to create a yard sale to raise money for the people at the Salvation Army. The students were responsible for cleaning, pricing, and running the yard sale. They also decide that they would rin a lemonaide and cookie stand to make extra money to donate to the people who needed their help.
When the day arrived we took a short trip to the facility. Once everyone arrived, we all gathered, ready to unload all of the decorations. We got busy decorating the dining room with festive with colorful fall decorations created by Community Day School students. The people at the Salvation Army were so grateful. They thanked us and told us that it was people like us that make life better.
We had a lot of questions for Ms. Rosin, the director of the Salvation Army. We wanted to know how long people stayed at the facility and how people got medical care when they were at the facility. Our biggest question was what will the Salvation Army do with the $1,1370.65 check we gave them? We were so shocked to find out that our money would actually take a person off the street and give them a home. We could not believe that we were able to do that. As we were heading out the door to go back to school our 1st and 2nd graders announced…”Next year we want to get two people into a home!”
Ms. Barbara O'Brien has been teaching for 27 years, 16 years of these have been as the second grade teacher at CDS. Ms. O'Brien is also currently working towards her master degree from Brandeis University in Boston, Massachusetts. She hope to use her degree in teacher leadership to enhance student and teacher learning for all of her colleagues.
Ms. Jodi Behrenfeld has been teaching first grade for 19 years at Community Day School. She has her Master's Degree in Elementary Education from the University of South Florida.
Ms. Dani Williams has been teaching for 9 years in a variety of self-contained and mainstream classrooms. She has a dual Bachelor's degree in Elementary and Special Education as well as a number of fitness and wellness certifications. Ms. Dani also owns a youth fitness company called NXT Generation Wellness, LLC.