Teaching local students about the hardships suffered by children around the world is not a difficult task. When you see the boxes and bags of non-perishable goods packed into the lobby of P.S. 233 Langston Hughes School, 9301 Avenue B, you can clearly see that hundreds of compassionate youngsters want to help Ukrainian refugees get some of the simplest supplies they need to survive after escaping the war ravaging their homeland.
One student said, “It’s very sad some people still have to live there and the destruction is so horrible. In a small amount of time, these people had to leave their homes.”
Last week, the caring students at P.S. 233 were busy collecting a plethora of donated items for their “Kids for Kids” project. Donations, including clothes, toys, books, baby formula, medical supplies and hygiene products, will soon arrive in Poland for Ukrainian children. Monetary donations were also accepted. Homemade cards and letters were sent to families as well. All of the donated goods were sorted out by the Parent Teachers Association and a few days later hauled away by volunteers and then shipped to Poland.
The team of teachers that put the donation efforts together has taught students that Ukrainians had their lives turned upside down in a short period of time.
“The students understand that this isn’t a natural disaster that’s displaced thousands of families like the earthquake in Haiti did, for example,” said Vice Principal Janice Sydney-Smith. “We helped our kids understand the emotional toll this is taking on children in the Ukraine – that those children left their homes with nothing.”
Teachers are also finding that families can connect with – and relate to – the struggles faced by children fleeing war.
“Some of these students are also learning that they are refugees as well, which hits home for so many families,” said teacher Fleur Dellimore. “We’re learning that students have come to this country by force and not choice. That connection, I think, made them want to help the Ukrainian children even more.”
The team of educators who coordinated the schoolwide efforts included Sydney-Smith, Dellimore, Howard Goldberg, Halina Grenchko and Yeva Budiyanskiy.