Heifer International's Read to Feed program has undoubtedly been an important and invaluable experience for the Maimonides fourth grade class this past year (2012-2013). It did not take long for my students to understand that their philanthropy could significantly improve a family’s quality of life, and that together, they can make a lasting difference for people around the world.
The concept of tzedakah took on a whole other meaning for the children as they eagerly set and met individual and group reading goals, communicated with people of all ages to educate them about Heifer's mission and obtain sponsors, devoted hours reading books from a variety of genres and difficulty levels, and most importantly, actively helped fight to end world hunger and poverty.
Over the course of two months, my students read in, and outside, of school and enhanced their knowledge about the Heifer organization and worldwide issues by engaging in meaningful class discussions. The class also visited Heifer Farm in Rutland, MA, weighed the pros and cons of the many gift options available to purchase, and hosted a certificate ceremony in honor of the tremendous efforts of my fourth graders. Moreover, my students began to develop a greater appreciation for their own lives as they became more aware of the day-to-day struggles and hardships families endure as a result of destitution and starvation.
For example, as we read and discussed the devastation Hurricane Sandy caused, it was clear the children started to empathize for others and felt an urge to get involved. As a result of the children's commitment to both their reading and to this charity, they collectively raised an astounding $4,187.25!
- Victoria Zenlea