Two Merrimac Elementary School siblings went above and beyond as they organized a kickball tournament aimed at collecting nonperishable food items and cleaning supplies to donate to the nonprofit organization Island Harvest, benefiting those affected by the devastating hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
As part of the Leader in Me program, third-grade student Gabriel Nagel and fifth-grader Sarah Nagel organized the engaging benefit to involve all students of Merrimac Elementary by creating friendly competition amongst classes. With help from gym teachers Robert Romano and Nicole Kessinger, the drive was arranged so that every two days each class’ donations would be tallied to arrive at that class’ total score. Adding an interesting twist to the drive, the inclusion of cleaning supplies as bonus items counted as 15 points added to the class totals. During each gym class throughout the week, every point scored by students during the kickball games was added to their overall totals.
The Leader in Me is a program that provides students the opportunity to organize a service learning project that will contribute to the community. Each proposed project is presented to students and staff before implementation.
The student duo worked together to create flyers and announcements to promote the Kicking for a Cause drive throughout the building. The fundraiser provided students across all grade levels an opportunity to synergize and work towards a common goal while having fun.
“With the Leader in Me program our students have developed valuable skills such as leadership, communication, empathy and teamwork, all of which have contributed to a school culture that values project-based learning, goal setting and critical thinking,” said Merrimac Principal Veronica DeCicco. “All of the students learned a valuable lesson about contributing as a community.”
As a result of the school’s generosity, hundreds of items were donated to the cause.
At the conclusion of the drive, Michelle Nelson’s kindergarten class, Peter Gentzlinger’s first-grade class and Lorraine Alvarez’s fifth-grade class were presented with trophies donated by Port Jefferson Sporting Goods to be displayed in their classrooms as the three winning classes.