Thanks to the students, parents, and staff of P.S. 186 and the NIA ExpandEd after-school program, at least 55 Bensonhurst families will have a full Thanksgiving dinner this year. The big-hearted kids collected $1,100 and over 30 cartons of donated food for Reaching-Out Community Services (RCOS), the New Utrecht Avenue-based food pantry and family-assistance nonprofit that helps feed and support local families in need.
Asked how they and their classmates worked to fundraise for their neighbors, P.S. 186’s student council representatives all spoke excitedly.
“We made flyers and sent them home,” said Salma Gaber, 10.
“Oh, we had people go around with a jar with a [picture of a] turkey on it during Parent-Teacher conferences and asked for dollar bills and coins,” chimed in Sarai Rodriguez, 10, who added that fundraising was easy to get enthusiastic about because “I like that we know we’re helping people and helping those not as fortunate as us.”
“My favorite part of about community service is feeling like I’m making a difference,” agreed 10-year-olds Omar Hassan and Kathryn Castillo.
The no-strings-attached generosity of the students—who have also collected toys, clothes and books during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy—was a happy and inspiring sight, said Thomas Neve, executive director and founder of Reaching-Out, who greeted and thanked the fourth and fifth graders during a tour of the food pantry on November 22.
“It’s great that the kids can recognize the need in our community because hunger is not a necessity,” said Neve. “We encourage youth to find a way to give back.”
P.S. 186’s fundraising and food drives were part of RCOS’s Operation Gobbler Giving; sponsoring a family’s turkey and all the trimmings only costs $20 and that amount also goes a long way when it’s not the holidays.
The students also have a week left of their annual Penny Harvest drive and have already collected 34 sets of pennies in three weeks, said P.S. 186 Parent Coordinator Elaine Delaney. One set of pennies equals $50, so this means the kids have already raised $1,700—all to be donated to RCOS, as well.
“What my mother taught me and what we’re teaching you is that no matter how rough [it gets for us], we’ll always give back,” said Delaney. “Remember what we learn with Penny Harvest: every penny counts.”
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