Sending Support to Puerto Rico
Since her family lives in Puerto Rico, second grader Einya C. has a very personal connection to the island and when Hurricane Maria hit she decided to help those in need. But what can a 7 year old do? Einya took the initiative to hold a lemonade stand during two home soccer games, offering homemade cupcakes and fresh squeezed lemonade to attendees. When her 2nd grade friends learned about her efforts, they also made baked goods and helped her with sales. This small act of kindness successfully raised $350.00 for Puerto Rico relief and Einya sent the money directly to families in Puerto Rico, along with a personalized letter. (Below is the letter Einya sent to Puerto Rico - this has been translated from Spanish to English - click the images to read the letter and see the pictures.)
"We spoke with family and friends in Puerto Rico who helped us identify seven (7) families in need," said her mother Elizabeth, "As you may know, this effort took us a little more time than expected due to the limited communication, lack of internet or electricity in PR; it was a challenge to get results a little faster. We are glad to say that the task has been accomplished and the money was delivered directly to the seven (7) families."
Who are the families?
Click on the image to read their stories.
A Rising Star Connection
The plan to help didn't stop there! The entire school wanted to get involved, so we called Einya's father Jose Cruz, who is on the Board of Directors for the Rising Stars Foundation, a is a not-for-profit corporation established to provide educational opportunities in San Juan, Puerto Rico primarily for at-risk children from low-income backgrounds. The Foundation envisions a school that will inspire young students at an age when they are most impressionable with a love of learning, an understanding of their culture and heritage, and an enduring sense of responsibility for each other as well as for their community.
The foundation supports the efforts of Colegio Sagrada Familia, a school that welcomes all children of Luis Llorens Torres residential complex, providing them with the foundation necessary to develop as confident, bright, responsible, healthy and socially aware students. The school's missions is to promote the intellectual, spiritual, social and physical growth of Llorens Torres' most vulnerable residents, its children, by providing them support and guidance.
(Vision and mission of the school)
Next Steps for Support
Both St. Michael's and Sagrada Familia teach their students about the importance of supporting their community and both schools are committed to stimulating each student's curiosity through an enhanced curriculum, extra-curricular activities, and an overall sense of pride in their work. Unfortunately, due to the destruction brought about by Hurricane Maria, Sagrada Familia has had to put this goal on hold to rebuild the physical structure of the school and replace what was lost in the storm.
Despite the school still being without electricity, the children are back in the classroom. Despite all of their supplies being lost in the storm, the teachers are continuing to lead their students. What can we do to help? With the assistance of the Rising Stars Foundation, our students have started two initiatives, pen pal letters/friendship bracelets and a campaign to send school supplies to the children in Puerto Rico.
Pennies for Puerto Rico
Jose and the Rising Stars Foundation created an Amazon wish list for Sagrada Familia School, which includes everything from crayons and books to hula hoops and board games.
Our lower and middle school students have been challenged with bringing in change for our "pennies jars" and, once full, each class will select something from the wish list to send to Puerto Rico. We have heard many stories from the students about how they donated money from their own piggy bank or did something at home to earn it, which is just the spirit of generosity and giving we are trying to cultivate in our students. (Below: Grade 3 counted their change while the 2nd graders selected their items from the Amazon wishlist.)
Pen Pal Letters & Friendship Bracelets
One of the things Jose felt would mean the most to the children in Puerto Rico is knowing they are cared about and that are people out there are thinking of them - and so the pen pal letter plan was born. Lower School students wrote pen pal letters in English and these were translated into Spanish by the Middle School spanish classes. It truly was a group effort! The letters were mailed this week and should be received soon by the Sagrada Familia School students. When Jose visits the school on Monday he will bring back letters and pictures from the children, which will be translated into English by our students. (Below: 6th & 7th grade Spanish classes)
The lower school students are also making friendship bracelets to send to their pen pals for the holiday, as a way to let the children of Sagrada Familia know we care about them. This also teaches our students how giving their time is another important and impactful way to be generous. The kindergarten started making their bracelets already!
We look forward to keeping this connection going and to continue sending support to the students at Sagrada Familia School. As we enter December, this connection truly embodies the spirit of generosity at St. Michael's, showing our students how their efforts can truly make a difference in another's life.