Does your school hold multiple drives during the holiday season? Food drives, toy drives, personal care product drives, clothing drives…. It all can get overwhelming. It also happens during the busiest time of the year – concert season. I often find that I don’t remember to remind students to support these events, or I don’t have the energy to promote them. I needed to find a way to help bring out the generosity that I know is innate in every student.
Enter our third annual Strings Give Back Day. Each year, on the day after the Winter Concert, everyone brings some money ($5 is suggested) and I take each class to the local mall to buy as many items as they can for the various drives that are happening around the school.
Each class divides themselves into groups of 4-6 and each group pools their money and spends it on one specific area such as:
- Pasta and sauce
- Dried beans and legumes
- Canned vegetables
- Canned meat
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Granola breakfast cereals
- Granola bars
- Cookies and crackers
- ‘Girl’s’ toys
- ‘Boy’s’ toys
- School supplies
- Gifts for teens
It’s kind of cute, following the teenagers around, observing as they try to make wise decisions on what to purchase. You can tell that some of them have never had the responsibility of shopping for groceries or gifts before. It’s also rewarding to see their generosity come out when a student, without hesitation, reaches into their pocket to contribute more money because the group is short or wants to get a little bit more.
They are so proud of their purchases, the deals they got, and the wise choices they made to get quinoa instead of some other grain, or a huge stuffed animal they got for only $10.
Next, we take all the toys to the local fire hall and hand them over to the firefighter who greets us at the door. Then we go back to school and the students proudly fill the bins and carts at school with food.
Afterwards, there is just enough time to do our circle-time and debrief their accomplishments at the Winter Concert.
As a school with a fairly large and well-supported music programme, we know that we are very lucky to have the opportunities we do. Spending a class giving back is a great way to spend the day after the Winter Concert. Perhaps you would like to start a similar tradition as well?
Wish I could share pictures of my students!