The students at Drexel Avenue School in Westbury, New York, definitely live up to their motto, “We Get Smart, Have Heart and Stay Fit.” These big-hearted students went above and beyond the call of duty to love our brothers and sisters in Christ by helping children living in need in Appalachia this past Christmas.
Recently, a group of students at Drexel approached Mrs. Matarazzo, the school librarian, about doing a holiday project. The children were specifically looking for something that would benefit children in need. Mrs. Matarazzo immediately thought of the perfect book to inspire these students, Silver Packages, by Cynthia Rylant. This book, originating from true events, tells the story of a wealthy man who becomes stranded in the hills of Appalachia. A local family takes him into their home and nurses him back to health. When offered anything they would like, the family asks for nothing. Each December thereafter, the man rides a train through the Appalachian town, tossing silver packages off the caboose for the children who lived there.
In the spirit of the book, the Drexel School students decided they would like to help children who are economically challenged in Appalachia, and the best way to do that was by sending school supplies, toothpaste, toothbrushes, books, and supplies to the Christian Appalachian Project.
You see, for nearly 50 years, CAP has operated two Child and Family Development Centers. These centers offer programs for infants to children 5 years of age, as well as after-school programs for schoolaged children. CAP’s Family Life Center also provides in-home services to children with specific challenges or developmental delays through its Parents Are Teachers program.
Additionally, CAP participates in the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program during the summer months when schools are not in session. Through this program, your generous donations are multiplied, providing free meals and activities to children. Children are such an important part of what we do at CAP, and we are always grateful for any donations that you can provide.
Once the Drexel School students had gathered their donations, they joined with teachers on the project committee and school staff to raise money to ship the packages by selling raffle tickets during lunch period. Everyone had a great time knowing that this was being done for such a good cause. They decided to name their project Kids Connect with Kids.
When the supplies were sent, cards designed by the students with personal messages accompanied them. The eight full boxes that were sent to CAP were then dispersed to people in need.
One of the reasons this project is so special is because Drexel School is a Title-1 school, where 90% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. These students who face struggles of their own have reached out and “paid” forward their appreciation to the help they receive.
CAP believes that education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty in Appalachia. Each year when school begins, families in need in Appalachia face additional anxieties due to added expenses. Through CAP’s annual School Readiness Backpack Program, our donors provide new clothing, shoes, socks, notebooks, calculators, backpacks, and other essential needs that Appalachian families may not otherwise be able to afford. We appreciate the enthusiasm and encouragement our participants receive each time those donations are received.
While donations of supplies are accepted year round through CAP’s OP Sharing Warehouse, we ask that all donations for the School Readiness Backpack Program be received by mid-June. The Family Advocacy program works with local schools and churches to determine the needs of each location. Through your partnership with the Christian Appalachian Project we are able to make a difference to the children and families we serve. Your financial support is needed year round in order to meet the ever-growing demands of providing for children and families in need. God bless you and thank you.