If it’s November, it must be time for the Giving Assembly.
For several decades, Coleytown Middle School celebrated Thanksgiving with a month-long, school-wide project. Each grade selected one or two organizations or non-profits. Students and parents collected goods or raise money.
Then — on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving — the school gathered together for a Giving Assembly. Recipients described how they’ll use the donations. There was music too, and plenty of good vibes.
The closure of CMS for renovation, and then the pandemic’s prohibition of visitors, put the great tradition on hold.
Thankfully, it’s back.
As the school rebuilds a sense of community after a few tumultuous years, enthusiasm for the program is high.
Eighth graders overwhelmingly chose Al’s Angels — the Westport-based charity helping children with serious illnesses — as this year’s recipients. The 2 pods have a “coin war,” to see which collects the most.
Seventh and 6th graders are raising funds for Westport’s Department of Human Services, and the ALS Therapy Development Institute. They selected both groups to honor Patty Haberstroh, Westport Human Services’ longtime youth director who is battling ALS. For 20 years, she was an instrumental part of Coleytown’s Giving Assembly.
Sixth graders are also collecting donations for Homes with Hope. Executive director Helen McAlinden kicked off the campaign by visiting all 8 classrooms. She described her organization’s efforts to combat homelessness and food insecurity, and inspired the young fundraisers.
PTA volunteers have already delivered some items to the Gillespie Center.
“All year long, we talk about the importance of giving back,” says 6th grade language arts teacher Emily Diggs. “We do a lot of lessons about ‘being your best self.’ This is one more way to do that.”
A large “thermometer” in the hall between the 2 6th grade pods — the Orcas and the Dolphins — is updated every day. Students watch the two groups fight for the top spot.
But, as several wise children told Diggs, “It doesn’t matter who wins. It’s all about giving back.”
Students love to hear stories about their impact at the annual Giving Assembly. COVID means that this year’s version will be virtual — streamed live on Coleytown TV.
That’s a small price to pay, for the return of an important tradition.
CMS — and the Giving Assembly — are both back!