By Chris Maza
LONGMEADOW – Continuing with its efforts to create positive and active contributors to the community, Center School recently surpassed a lofty milestone with its Helping Hands program.
Through Helping Hands, a program developed by parent Amy NedWed, students have been coming to school early to make sandwiches to distribute to local shelters and soup kitchens since October 2013 and recently surpassed the 3,000-sandwich mark with its most productive month ever.
“[The month of] March Helping Hands was our largest turnout to date,” Center School Principal Donna Hutton said. “The fifth graders joined the kindergarten to help them make their sandwiches. We have a fifth grade buddy program, so the combination of the two grades worked perfectly. This month we shared 771 sandwiches with Loaves and Fishes and the Easthampton Community Center.”
It was the kindergarteners and fifth graders that kicked off the program near the beginning of the school year. Since then, different grades have taken turns each month making sandwiches.
School parents donate sandwich materials and additional help is always welcomed. The school recommends a pound of deli meat, a half-pound of cheese and two loaves of bread; however, anything that can be spared is appreciated. Condiments and plastic bags are provided by the Big Y and CVS located in town.
Hutton said the program’s success is due largely to the strong sense of community within the school, which, in turn, has been augmented by the program.
“Helping Hands has enhanced the community spirit at Center. We have a strong and vibrant school community, and the effort provides an opportunity for all the members of the school community to work together to make a difference in surrounding communities,” she said. “The strongest aspect of the effort is that it’s coming directly from our students’ ‘helping hands.’ They feel the positive impact of helping others in need in a very concrete manner. Teachers, parents, siblings, and even grandparents join us each month. It’s truly been a collective effort.”
Fourth and first grades will attempt to surpass this month’s total on April 9, followed by third grade and kindergarten on May 21. On June 11, the second grade, as well as anyone from any other grade who wants to help, will finish off the project for this school year.
For more information on Helping Hands, visit http://sites.longmeadow.k12.ma.us/ctr/announcements/helpinghands-1