Akiva School 4th grade students hosted a relief drive to collect needed items for victims of the Humphreys County flooding.
When devastating floods battered parts of Humphreys County in August, Akiva students
immediately asked what they could do to help. Gina Cherbonneaux, Akiva’s 4th Grade teacher, told her class about the ruin left in the wake of flash flooding in Waverly, a city of close to 4,300 people. She asked her students to think about what happened and what they might do to help. Students decided to host a relief drive to collect items needed by flood victims. Akiva fourth grader Kol Rosenblatt said, “We felt we needed to help in some way. Even during difficult times like COVID and flash flooding you can find a way to help people out.” And so, they did. Fourth, fifth and sixth graders created an informational video, handouts outlining items needed, and information on how to donate those items. The response from the Akiva community was overwhelming. Items poured in, and students filled cars and vans full of supplies to be delivered to those in need. Kol said he and his friends were, “really surprised by how much stuff people brought. It couldn’t even fit in one car.”
The flooding and ensuing destruction shone a light for students on natural disasters and tragedies that strike communities all over the world. Seeing the students’ passion and success in helping Humphreys County, Ms. Cherbonneaux challenged her class to think more globally and consider ways to provide support in the aftermath of disasters elsewhere. Incorporating what they have learned about tikkun olam, repairing the world, and chesed, kindness, together with skills they have developed in both writing and technology, the fourth-grade class launched a Donations4Disasters website. The goal of this website, created solely by the students, is to facilitate relief drives and direct help around the world to those who need it.
Ms. Cherbonneaux says she admired the students’ agency in taking on this project. “I was delighted for them to learn first-hand that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still make an impact and have a positive role in your community and in the world.” Head of School, Rabba Daniella Pressner underscores that at Akiva, “we strive to help children see their place in this world and their achraut, or responsibility, for others' lives and experiences. Their leadership is never surprising but always a reminder that every child has passion and purpose, and it is our job to help them find it. This unique encouragement and support helps lead to Akiva students' positioning as profound learners and leaders in our world.”
For information on how you can help, visit www.sites.google.com/view/donations4disasters/home