Orchard Elementary students help Ukrainians in needMay 09, 2022 09:43AM ● By Hannah Sandorf Davis
The crisis in Ukraine has sparked a variety of humanitarian efforts, raising millions of dollars and shipping thousands of pounds of items to refugees. Donors come from all over the United States, including from students at Orchard Elementary School. The sixth graders of Ann Potter’s class decided to start a drive for donations to send to Ukrainian refugees. Donations were collected from different students and administrators at Orchard Elementary and sent to Ukraine in March.
The students learned about the Ukrainian refugees through a daily class social studies lesson on current events. “Every day we spend some time in the morning watching the news,” said sixth-grader Sophie Sandford. “We saw the people who needed help in Ukraine and we wanted to help them.” Sandford said she had never collected donations like this before, but she thought it was a great way to help those in need. “It’s a heartwarming feeling to know you can do something to help others,” she said.
Fellow student Lacee Bybee mentioned another part of the story. “We heard about the Ukrainians from my teacher’s friend,” said Bybee. The friend is Jen Neuman, a community member with a Ukrainian husband. Neuman helped to organize the donation effort to make sure it all made it to the right place. Neuman’s personal experience, said Bybee, helped to bring what they saw on the news closer to home. “She told us how she and her family felt and how it was hard knowing what was going on.”
Neuman’s personal connection to Potter was key for the project to succeed. “I could see how upset she was about it,” said Potter. “My students could see how it affected us even though it was happening in another place.” The next step was to see how the students would want to get involved and what they could realistically do to help.
The class decided to collect donations but wanted to open it up to the whole school. To get the word out about donations around the school, the students decorated posters. These posters were placed around the school with a list of the most needed supplies for donation. The students said it was fun to decorate the posters while also helping increase awareness of the issue. “It was fun to know we were helping and that we could make things look nice so people would notice them,” said Bybee.
A few weeks after the class gathered donations and sent them off, they were watching the news when Ukraine came up again in a segment. “We saw donations being passed out to Ukrainian refugees,” said sixth-grader Teagan Johnson. “We wondered if some of those things were what we collected. Just knowing you are a part of that is amazing.”
The students were able to gather a Honda-Pilot-full of donations. “My entire car was full. We had over 25 boxes of diapers, 30-40 toothbrushes, a dozen coats, and numerous socks, blankets, and outfits,” said Potter. “It was really the students driving the whole thing. They saw a need and wanted to help.” λ