POLAND — This holiday season, students in the Poland and Central Valley school districts are proving it’s a time for giving by collecting school supplies to send to needy students in the Dominican Republic.
The idea for the effort began when Poland second-grade teacher Heather Judd, and her husband, Luke Judd, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Central Valley’s Jarvis Middle School, visited the Dominican Republic last September on a trip earned through Thirty-One Gifts.
While there, they witnessed the extreme poverty that grips so much of the Caribbean nation. In a casual conversation with the chef at the resort where they were staying, they learned many schools were in desperate need of supplies. The chef told them about his children’s school and how students lacked the basics of pencils, paper, notebooks and crayons.
Returning from their trip, the Judds knew they had to do something to help out.
“It’s just so sad,” Heather Judd said. “Being a teacher and knowing how much our kids have, we just thought it would be great to give back to kids that have need.”
Instead of exchanging gifts with each other this holiday season, students in Heather Judd’s second-grade class are donating school supplies to send to these needy schools. The faculty and staff stepped up and offered to offset the shipping costs by contributing the “fines” from an employee dress-down day this school year.
At Central Valley, Luke Judd decided to recruit the help of the Jarvis Middle School eighth grade Blue Team, which includes roughly 90 students and their teachers. The teachers explained the project to their classes and set out collection boxes in their classrooms. They placed another box in the middle school lobby to encourage everyone in the school to pitch in.
“Here at Jarvis, we encourage students to become involved outside of school. We saw this as a great opportunity for them to become a part of something much bigger than just Mohawk and Ilion,” Luke Judd said. “Our students are learning that in a country like the Dominican Republic, where people make just $2 a day, something as simple as pencils and paper is a big deal.”