donation · holidays · Jewish · slice of life

This one’s for the goats!

When Isabelle was in preschool, we began dedicating the fifth night of Chanukah to charitable giving. It felt like a no brainer to me since I’m not a present-each-night kind of mom. For the past six Chanukahs (including this one), Isabelle has emptied her tzedakah box and picks an organization for her donation. In the past, she’s donated to organizations such as Best Friends Animal Society, Children’s Miracle Network, and the Pajama Program (which Slicers may recognize as TWT’s SOLSC charity of choice!). This year, she selected to donate her tzedakah money to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital “to help kids with cancer.”

This year, Ari joined the fifth night donation for the first time. Over breakfast, I explained this Chanukah tradition to Ari. I asked him, “Do you want to help feed kids who are hungry?” He said yes. I asked him, “Do you want to buy books for kids who don’t have books in their homes?” He said yes. I asked him, “Do you want to help kids who are sick?” He said yes. I asked him several more questions and every answer was yes. But, finally, I got a different answer when I asked, “Do you want to help animals who may have been hurt or not cared for and are trying to get better?” His face lit up and he gave me a big YES!

I suggested Lancaster Farm Sanctuary, which is a local organization that cares for animals who have been abused and neglected, to him. I showed Ari some photos and a video on their website. Once he saw that some of Lancaster Farm Sanctuary’s residents are goats, he declared, “That’s where I want to give my money!”

This evening, Ari came into my office to make the donation. (He handed over the cash to me and I put it on my credit card.) When I filled out the donation form, I wrote:

Ari (my four-year-old son) is donating some of his saved Tzedakah money instead of getting a Chanukah present tonight. He loves animals, especially goats. We hope to come visit after COVID!

Less than two hours later, I received an email back from one of the women who runs the sanctuary, which said:

Please tell Ari we are so grateful that he chose to support our farm sanctuary. We hope after COVID you and Ari are able to come and visit us at the farm to see all of our residents, especially the goats 🙂

One of the photos I received this evening.

And do you want to know what else was included in the email? PHOTOS OF SOME OF THEIR GOATS! Ari will be thrilled when I show him the email and the goats’ photos in the morning.

Quite frankly, I’m touched the folks who run Lancaster Farm Sanctuary took the time to write back — and send photos of the goats — after receiving what amounted to a small donation. That kind of personal touch will have us donating again in the future.

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donation · paperback books · picture books · short chapter books · slice of life

Cleaning out My “Basement Classroom” for a NYC School.

I wasn’t going to write about the box I packed up tonight. I was going to keep my donation between me and Maggie, who is trying to help a school in Staten Island that lost a lot during Hurricane Sandy. But then Maggie posted this on Twitter:

Maggie B. Roberts ‏@MaggieBRoberts

Donations are rolling in for PS 38 in Staten Island! Kids in need of school supplies.Send to school!TY @raisealithuman

Seeing as my donation became public, in her Tweet I decided it might be okay to write about what I did tonight. After all, parting with some of the books I packed up was incredibly hard.

Maggie Beattie Roberts, who is one of my former classmates from TC, is a staff developer at the TCRWP. She has a heart of gold. Ever since Sandy passed, she’s been working tirelessly to help those in need. Earlier this evening she posted the following on her Facebook page:

I’m gathering small donations of school supplies for one of my little schools on Staten Island that was caught in a direct hit by Hurricane Sandy. The principal shared that many of her students and their families are in shelters and the school suffered a severe loss in materials.

If you are looking for a small way to donate, message or call me and I’m happy to take them a care package from you!

They are in need of:
-books (esp, for 2nd-5th grade)
-post its

I had been thinking about donating a bunch of the books from my former classroom, but wasn’t sure how to do it. Maggie’s post seemed like a good way.

My personal belongings from my former classroom are mostly contained in these boxes. (I’m sure I could get rid of at least half of the items in the boxes, which are old files and outdated curriculum guides, if I took the time to go through them.)

You see, my former classroom is located in my basement. While I’ve been out of the classroom since June 2009, I still have many of my school supplies, books, files, and such located in my basement. My mother has pleaded with me to consolidate my boxes since it’s a mess down there. However, my husband hasn’t complained about it. Seeing as my mom doesn’t live with us, I haven’t made much headway on those boxes since July 2009 when we moved in.

I’ve been saving all of those things for “some day” because some day I want to return to the classroom. While I enjoy the consulting work I do, I know I want to go back and teach fourth or fifth grade some day. That some day might be 10 years from now, but I know it will happen.

I hate our basement because it’s dark, cold, and messy… kind of like people’s homes that have been ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. However, our basement is a controlled chaos. I know where everything is. So, I canceled my pity party and immediately went over to the supply cabinet and removed a bunch of pens, pencils, magic markers, sentence strips, pencil grips, baskets, etc. that I thought another teacher could use.

And then I went over to the shelves that hold many of the books I purchased through the years for my classroom. I went through them, trying to identify the ones that were on the reading levels Maggie specified. I grabbed paperbacks that I knew would be right. I paused as I found books that contained post-its with my former students’ handwriting. I paused when I recognized Kevin’s handwriting. He had filled a book with post-its and returned it to the classroom library without removing them. Then I saw Emely’s handwriting on another post-it. Wow! These kids are in in 8th grade now (from my last class in Rhode Island). Time sure passes quickly.

A box of books I kept in my home office in Providence.

Convinced I didn’t have enough books, I went over to a box, which was labeled “Stacey’s Office.” Instead of finding classroom library books, I found books that used to be in my home office. Books I used for minilessons. Books I loved. Books I wasn’t sure I wanted to part with. What if the Hurricane blew through here and washed these books away and you had nothing? I asked myself. With that, I inhaled and grabbed a few for the box I was packing up to send to Maggie. I ignored the books I wanted to reread, the books I thought Izzy might like to read, and the books that might go into the classroom I hope to have again some day when I want to go back to work full-time. Someone else needs them today. So I kept searching.

Once I realized I could barely lift the box, I decided to call it quits for the night. I typed up a letter to the principal and told her to contact me if she needed anything else. Besides, my parents live an hour away from the school where these books are going so I’m sure I could send another box up with them in a few weeks if the need is still there.

My husband taped up the box. “Find out what time the post office closes tomorrow, I’m taking it in. It’s too heavy for you and I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

“Okay,” I said in a small voice. “Thank you.”

He’s doing his part too.

The box I put together this evening.

If you’re interested in helping this school, then please let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Maggie.