Since my family moved to Shaker Heights, I’ve been struck time and again by our young people’s willingness to extend kindness and generosity to those within our school community and well beyond it—in some cases, halfway around the world. The spirit of caring is remarkable. And it’s evidence that our students truly internalize the IB Learner Profile.
In this season of thanksgiving, I challenge all of us—adults and students alike—to show compassion every day and to fuel our appetites for social change through service year-round. Our capacity to serve, to volunteer and to give back can become a part of our daily living. It’s what we teach to our students in our classrooms—why not model these attributes ourselves?
This month, High School freshman Sam Schmidt and junior Erin Harris have initiated ways they can give back to the community. Sam saw an effort in North Carolina called PORCH, an all-volunteer grassroots neighborhood food drive that collects canned goods in neighborhoods and distributes donations to local pantries. He decided that it was something he could do in his own neighborhood. (Read more about Sam and how you can donate to his PORCH effort.) And Erin Harris tapped into what she knew to be true: that Cleveland winters are cold and many of the area’s homeless who can’t stay in a shelter go without coats, boots, hats and mittens. This month, she’s collecting cold weather gear for adults and children, which she plans to donate to local shelters for distribution. (Read more about Erin’s efforts.)
Like Sam and Erin, we can all take action and be champions for change. Sign up to volunteer your time and share your skills at the Shaker Schools. Donate to the Greater Cleveland Foodbank. Become a basketball mentor at The City Mission. Tutor adults who are studying for their GED at the Thea Bowman Center, just two miles away in Mount Pleasant. Call patients to remind them of their appointments at the VA Medical Center.
Ghandi once said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.” These words still ring true for us here in Shaker. Let’s keep giving, volunteering and donating our way to local and global changes for us all.