From the youngest Nursery student to graduating seniors, each individual at Friends’ Central understands that an important element of being a member of the FCS community is the importance of being stewards in the school, local, and global communities. Students are taught early on that everyone has the potential to advocate for change, to be a force for good in the world, and this holiday season, FCS students realized that potential in myriad ways.
In November, students Zoe Ginsberg and Sophie Berger led Friends’ Central’s Blood Drive for the American Red Cross. Over 50 people, including 30 students, donated, for a total of 53 pints of blood. In a letter to FCS, Erin Talotta of the Red Cross wrote, “Because of your hard work and the generous donors at your school, we will be able to save the lives of up to 159 people!” Also, just in time for Thanksgiving, student Annie Roberts ’18 led the FCS community in a pie sale benefitting MANNA. Over 140 pies were sold, surpassing the goal and raising over $3600 for MANNA, helping to provide nourishing, life-sustaining meals to hundreds of people in the greater Philadelphia region who are coping with illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, renal disease, and diabetes. Wrapping up 2016 service in the Upper School, FCS once again sponsored the Angel Tree project, a prison fellowship program that works with the children of inmates and helps get those children presents for the holiday season. Upper School students in each homeroom sponsored an Angel Tree child, providing children with a gift and an even more meaningful connection to their parent this holiday season.
In the Middle School, community service is an integral part of the curriculum, with two hours devoted to service every Wednesday morning. In addition, this year, FCS Middle School students participated in an array of holiday-themed service projects, including traveling to Easter Seals of Southeastern Pennsylvania to work with their friends who have a variety of disabilities in assembling gingerbread houses. During the last day of school before winter break, each student in grades 6, 7, and 8 also created holiday cards to brighten up the days of residents at Lankenau, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Saunders House. Middle School Principal Alexa Quinn shared, “What an amazing gift we have in our students and in a service program that allows them to shine in and beyond the FCS community.”
Friends’ Central’s youngest learners are taught early on the importance and significance of serving others, and in November, the Lower School kicked off a number of service activities to benefit those in need. Through the “You CAN Do It” Canned Food Drive in November, 420 items were collected in less than two weeks, with all items donated to the food pantry at Calvin Presbyterian Church in West Philadelphia. Also, each Lower School classroom prepared a basket with a holiday meal for a family supported by ElderNet, an organization that serves adults of all ages, especially frail older or younger disabled persons with low or moderate incomes who live in Lower Merion or Narberth. As their December project, the LS Service Committee organized “Friendship Soup Mason Jars,” where LS students and their book buddies filled a mason jar with dry soup ingredients to be given to local food cupboard patrons.
Sponsored by the Middle & Upper School Service Committee and led by parent Wendy Frame, on December 7, Friends’ Central hosted the 2nd annual Holiday Cheer event benefitting Families Forward Philadelphia. FCS families donated over fifty $25 gift cards and countless travel-sized toiletry items, cookies, paper goods, and more for the event, brightening the holidays for over 30 teens, parents, and staff members from Families Forward, a shelter organization that helps keep families together as they transition out of homelessness. At the event, guests participated in an LED makerspace project or practiced skills and drills with the Varsity Boys' Basketball team. Holiday Cheer culminated in food, drink and stocking stuffing, with each teen taking home a stocking stuffed with donated toiletries and a $25 gift card for the holidays.
Every year, Friends’ Central students perform more than 20,000 hours of service to the greater community and more than 1,700 hours of campus service. Designed to encourage individual responsibility, cooperation, and a sense of citizenship, service projects provide for students an opportunity to recognize “that of God” in themselves and those they serve—a key Quaker principle that guides the Friends’ Central experience. With even the smallest act of service, during the holidays and all year, our students are making positive changes in the world and in themselves. From Nursery children to seniors, FCS students are eager to participate, learn, and lead – peacefully transforming the world one small act at a time.