Students at West School this month participated in a community service activity that saw the kids learn about and write notes of encouragement to those suffering from homelessness.
The K-4 students underwent what West School Principal Jan Murphy called a “kindness workshop” administered by Blankets of Hope, a nonprofit organization.
“The students felt proud to be able to do something to help our community,” Murphy told NewCanaanite.com in an email when asked about the activity.
Through donations from West School parents, each student was provided with a blanket to donate to a chosen charity—Malta House in Norwalk, which provides housing for expectant and new mothers and their babies. The students tied handwritten notes of encouragement to each of the 540-plus blankets delivered. The outside of one card reads, “You Are Loved.”
“The project was a school-wide effort to continue our focus on empathy and being good citizens,” Murphy said.
The kids’ letters were “colorful and thoughtful,” she said.
“The project helped our students to build compassion for others and learn how to use their hearts, their knowledge and their conscience to help our community.”
Laila Bravo, Malta House’s development assistant, said the blankets from West School “were truly filled with hope, and our moms were filled with joy as they cuddled their babies in the soft warm blankets while they read their messages.”
“Not only did we receive enough blankets for our current residents, we blessed our 36 ‘Partnering Success’ moms who have completed our program and have a continued relationship with us and our Community Moms that we serve throughout Fairfield County.”
The workshop led by Blankets of Hope, held virtually, included listening to a book called “Sam and the Lucky Money,” about a boy who is homeless.
To date, according to the organization’s website, more than 31,000 blankets and notes have been delivered.
The organization’s co-founder, Nick Fiorito, told New Canaanite that “every time a new group of students goes through the Blankets of Hope experience and feels the gift of giving, it’s always a special moment for us.”
“The hope is that this is just the beginning,” he said when asked about what it means to have young students contribute toward the effort for the first time.
“One thing that we’ve learned along our journey is that kindness is very contagious,” he said. “It tends to ripple out affecting all those who witness or come in contact with it. The students are leading the way and acting as the inspirational spark for us all to live in a kinder world, and that is a future that excites us very much.”
According to the Malta House’s website, there are more 300 births in Fairfield County each year to unmarried women ages 18 to 24 who are living below the poverty line and having their first or second child.
According to Bravo, Malta House in its 22 years has welcomed 334 mothers and 353 children “to live in our home.”
“Some of these children are now in college, their futures bright and filled with hope—hope they would never have found” if not for the organization’s supporters, she said. The support “has meant no pregnant woman has to be faced with giving up her child because she doesn’t have a safe place to care for her.”
“It means no woman has to stay with her abuser because it’s the only home she has,” she said. “We are now just one month away from moving into the home we have been renovating for the past 18 months. A home that allows us to increase our capacity by 50%.”