NORTHAMPTON – Students from Lander-Grinspoon Academy (LGA) spend the day before Thanksgiving every year reflecting on being thankful and learning about a social issue. This year, the focus was on refugees.
“In these challenging times, LGA is committed to cultivating citizens and leaders who have the clarity, confidence, and compassion to bring us closer to the world we seek, said Rabbi Debra Kolodny, executive director of LGA. “We are so pleased that for this year’s Mission Mitzvah Day our students were supporting refugees.”
LGA’s kindergarten and first grade classes learned about what it means to be a refugee, why someone would leave their home, and reflected on how having to leave their home would make them feel. They also made worry dolls to give to refugee children.
Grades 2, 3 and 4 focused on refugees entering the country from south of the border and made and sent them toiletry kits. Grades 5 and 6 have been learning about refugees for several years already. This year, the 5th grade had a successful clothing drive. The 6th grade fundraised more than $400 to supply a refugee family of eight with bathroom, kitchen, and bedding needs. They also cleaned the apartment and helped ready it for the family. Having already done all this, the 5th and 6th graders on the day before Thanksgiving, helped clean up at the Northampton Survival Center, and listened to a speaker from Jewish Family Services, a partner in setting up apartments for refugees.
“While LGA students spent Nov. 24 learning about the issue of refugees, this is not a onetime event,” said LGA Principal Deborah Bromberg Seltzer. “TIkkun Olam (improving the world) is a Jewish principle deeply imbedded in the fabric of LGA. Conversations about problems in the world and what we can do to help fix them take place regularly in all classes. Students routinely participate in a variety of opportunities where they make a tangible difference. In recent years, our students have spoken at climate marches, made food for houseless individuals, written letters to politicians, taught about the importance of solar power, baked for community helpers and more. COVID has made engaging with the community more difficult, and we are thrilled to be live and in person again with our community partners.”
Main Photo: LGA 4th graders making lists of toiletries to collect and send to refugees at the southern border.