Generosity permeates the spirit of Shafer Elementary School in Nazareth.
Here are some recent examples:
- A two-day collection of money for victims of Hurricane Sandy garnered $3,228 from Shafer students and their families.
- In a related effort, a collection of over-the-counter medicine, cleaning and paper products and clothing led by the school’s Kiwanis Kids brought in at least a U-Haul truckload of supplies.
- For the seventh-straight year, Shafer students wrote letters and created cards -- all shipped to the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center in time for Veterans Day.
Shafer’s achievements in generosity were acknowledged Monday night at the Nazareth Area School Board meeting. Superintendent Dennis Riker read two letters of thanks -- one from John Hughes, then-regional CEO of the American Red Cross office in Bethlehem, and the other from Vincent Riccardo Jr., acting chief of voluntary services at the VA hospital.
Riccardo wrote that without the letters and cards from Shafer students, “we could not provide the smaller necessities that make hospitalization more bearable.”
Hughes recently left Bethlehem to take a Red Cross post in Greensboro, N.C.
Shafer principal William Mudlock, who appears to have had more than a hand in the Sandy and VA efforts, said the idea to collect for the Red Cross came about during a staff meeting on the first day back to school after Sandy canceled classes for a week.
The staff wanted to help, as well as create a “teachable moment” for students at Shafer, which serves children in grades K-3.
He also notes that a good number of Shafer students have roots and families in New Jersey and New York -- areas that took the worst of Sandy’s devastation.
Mudlock called the Red Cross and was told the most urgent need was monetary donations. He sent home a letter with students that said Shafer would take up a two-day collection.
The result: $3,228.
”Shafer students are so generous and kind, especially when there are communities in need,” Mudlock said.
He noted that Vickie Nisbet, the major gifts officer of the Red Cross’ Bethlehem office, told him Shafer’s amount was the largest among school fundraisers she had received up to the time she picked up the contribution.
At the same time, the school’s Kiwanis Kids program -- known for activities such as helping at animal shelters and going to senior housing to rake leaves -- went to work to help Sandy’s victims.
Led by first-grade teacher Katie Scheetz, the “kids” put out the call for over-the-counter medicine, cleaning and paper products and clothing. The result was a U-Haul truckload of stuff.
Meanwhile, Shafer students extended their Veterans Day tradition to seven years. The catalyst was Murdock himself. Growing up in the Wilkes-Barre-area community of Pittston, he remembers going on field trips to the nearby VA hospital, where students would sing and share arts and crafts with patients.
The Shafer version of field trips has been sending letters and cards, letting veterans know how much the younger citizenry respects their sacrifices. Teachers have their own say in the kind of projects they have their students undertake.
Mudlock said it’s not a mandatory program, although almost all classes participate. And the result: anywhere from 350 to 500 letters and cards shipped “up the line” to Wilkes-Barre.
Shafer’s generosity hasn’t ended with Sandy and Veterans Day. Mudlock said the Shafer School Spirit Committee will sponsor a toy drive this month to support “Toys for Tots” and will hold a food drive to support the Nazareth Area Food Bank.
Shafer isn’t the only Nazareth area school alive with generosity. Lower Nazareth Elementary School, led by kindergarten teacher Barbara Koegler and with the help of the PYLON Club (Present Young Leaders of Nazareth), held a donation drive for Sandy’s victims.
Also, the Rotary Club of Nazareth , area residents affected by Sandy from Nov. 9-16 at all six Nazareth Area School District schools.
Assisting the local Rotary Club were students involved in Interact Clubs -- Rotary International's service club for young people ages 12 to 18 -- at Nazareth Area High School and Nazareth Area Intermediate School.