While they continue to perform good deeds for their community in Warwick, students at Sherman Elementary School have extended the reach of their community service to Haiti where they have “adopted” two children through World Vision.
“This came from our Feinstein Junior Scholars wanting to give back not only in our community, but around the world,” said Janis Reis, a special education teacher at Sherman and one of the school’s three Feinstein Coordinators.
As a Feinstein Leadership School, Sherman holds monthly food drives and the Feinstein Foundation gives them money for doing so. The school decided to use a portion of this money to financially support two children living in Haiti.
“We’ve been able to do this because we collect cans every month and [Alan Shawn Feinstein] gives us a dollar for every can,” explained Reis. “He sends us a check and that allows us to support them.”
Reis estimates the school has collected 1,230 items through their food drives so far this school year, resulting in $1,230. They provide World Vision with $35 a month for each child.
The process was completed in January and Reis explained that all the students were told about it and understand what this means. She brought each class down to the main entrance of the school, where there is a bulletin board displaying pictures of the two children and their stories.
Nine-year-old Louise lives with her parents, both of whom are farm laborers, her two brothers and three sisters in a wooden house. She is in primary school and assists her family with carrying water to their home every day.
Two-year-old Juvenson also lives with his parents, two brothers and one sister. His parents are also farm laborers, struggling to provide for their family.
The sponsorship by Sherman School will help to provide food, medical care, clothing and other necessities to Louise, Juvenson and their families.
World Vision, an organization dedicated to improving the well-being of children in Haiti, provides an ID number for each child, which allows Reis and the other coordinators to ensure the items they are sending reach the correct children.
But the project doesn’t stop there. The school will do a number of activities to provide things for Louise and Juvenson. For example, this month first-graders are creating rubber band bracelets to send to Haiti. Louise will be able to share the bracelets with her siblings and classmates, while Juvenson can share them with his siblings and other children in his community since he is not in school yet.
Reis explained that an email message from Sherman students has been sent to Louise and Juvenson, but it can take up to four months to get a response.
“This will be a Sherman School project for the long-term,” explained Reis. “We collect this food to make a difference.”
Through World Vision, larger monetary donations can result in larger items for the families. For example, Reis said the school would like to raise the money to provide the families with a chicken or a goat; a goat requires a separate donation of $100.
Reis also said portions of the money donated by the Feinstein Foundation will still go to projects in the Warwick community or items for Sherman School, so it is likely fundraisers will be planned to specifically support Louise and Juvenson in addition to the food drives.
Although he did not play a part in the school’s decision to adopt the children, Reis said Feinstein was very impressed with their project. He recently visited the school and saw the lobby display; Reis recalls seeing tears in his eyes.
“This will be good for us,” said Reis, adding that this project spreads the name Feinstein and Feinstein Junior Scholars even more.
The school is willing to accept community donations for Louise and Juvenson and is looking for local businesses that may be interested in sponsoring their efforts. For more information, contact the school at 734-3565.