The Westfield Public Schools community demonstrated its considerable civic-mindedness in March, with students across the district packing lunches, designing greeting cards, making care packages, picking up litter, and participating in many other activities as a way of giving back to those in need.
Whether a Community Service Night or a Week of Service, parent volunteers coordinated and organized the many activities at each of the ten schools. At Washington Elementary School, for example, students gathered in the gymnasium on March 24 to lend a helping hand, painting and potting plants for local senior citizens, making animal beds and toys for a nearby animal shelter, decorating baby onesies for the non-profit organization Moms Helping Moms, packing “grab and go” bags for St. Joseph Social Services Center, and sending treats and thank you notes to local police officers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and firefighters.
Additionally, Washington 5th graders participated in a targeted clean-up of Mindowaskin Park on March 25, part of a collaborative project with the Garden Club of Westfield, the Westfield Department of Public Works, and the Town of Westfield to renovate and plant a native wildflower garden on a hillside slope.
“The students raked and cleaned up trash and debris in preparation for spring and summer planting,” says Washington PTO member Nicole Ozturan. “We hope to get them back before the end of the school year so they can throw down some wildflower seeds. The field should be there for years to come so we hope they can see the results in the future.”
Wilson Elementary students collected toiletries during the week of March 14, with each grade assigned specific items to contribute to the supply kits packed by student and parent volunteers and donated to St. Joseph’s.
During the week of March 21, Roosevelt Intermediate School students wrote words of encouragement to Ukrainian children, sent letters of thanks to health care workers, cleaned up nearby Clark Park, and collected and organized non-perishable food items to be distributed to local families and individuals facing food insecurity.
And during Westfield High School’s Week of Service beginning on March 21, students, staff, and families collected approximately 1,200 toiletry kits for a local food pantry, sent more than 800 thank you notes to healthcare workers at Overlook Hospital, collected thousands of books for Friends of the Westfield Memorial Library and dozens of bags of gently used summer clothing for a community in Cartagena, Columbia, and raised hundreds of dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“To finish the Week of Service, we presented our WHS nurses with thank you cards and flowers,” say WHS Community Service Club advisors Zorana Culjak and Gregory Bowers.
Superintendent Dr. Raymond González thanked all who organized and participated in Community Service Week, adding “I have been impressed, but not surprised, by the giving spirit of the Westfield school community which embodies the district’s mission to educate our students to be productive, responsible and well-balanced citizens who respect individual differences and diversity in an ever changing world.”