Principal Mark Nardo of Indianapolis Public Schools George Washington Carver School 87 knows that the common perception at this time of year involves his students and families receiving the generosity from others. That’s why he wants everyone to know how giving his students are this holiday season.

“One of the premises of the Montessori education is community awareness,” said Nardo. “Altruism and thinking of others are part of our core values. We want [students] to think about other people, to think of others besides themselves.”

That’s just what students are doing with a Toys for Tots campaign this year. The Builders Club in the school chose the campaign. The club, organized and supported by the Kiwanis, teaches leadership skills to the 6th, 7th and 8th graders who participate. Those students can use a portion of the funds they have for the club on social/service projects. This year they chose Toys for Tots.
The school picked up on that. They asked all students in the school to bring in a new unwrapped toy or donate money—a dollar, a quarter, pennies, whatever they could—to the campaign. That money was combined with money from the Builders Club to go for Toys for Tots shopping.

Nardo said, “Every child in the school had the opportunity to participate.” The faculty and staff helped students understand others are in just as much if not more need than they are. It got students thinking beyond themselves and empowered them to give back.

Kameron, a 5th grader, said, “I wanted to donate to Toys for Tots because I wanted to help people who were less fortunate than I am. I like to help others have something for Christmas.”

Luis, a 2nd grader, said, “Toys for Tots makes other kids happy, and that makes me happy, too.”

And the focus on giving didn’t just stop with the donation campaign, nor was it confined to holiday time.

  • Nardo read the book “The Journey of a Toys for Tots Toy” to students and discussed the process toys for the charity go through.
  • The Builders Club students actually went on the shopping trip with the Marine from the Toys for Tots program to help get the gifts. LeRon, an 8th grader who went shopping, said, “All I want for Christmas is to see a kid that doesn’t have gifts get one for Christmas.”
  • Throughout the year, the first Friday of every month was a spirit day. If the students brought in a canned good to donate to the food pantry, they got to wear spirit gear, like a hat or sweatshirt that day. In many cases, students ended up donating to the very food pantry that they at other times might receive food from.

Giving back to the community is a core part of the curriculum at George Washington Carver, and we’re proud of the great work being done by faculty and staff and the great examples being set by our students there!