Students at West Hartford’s Smith STEM School come together to raise more than $1,600 in ‘Nickels for Nepal’ relief efforts for community families directly affected by the April earthquake.
By Michelle Bonner
In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Nepal on April 25, 2015, the deadliest tragedy in the history of the country, students and faculty at Smith STEM School in West Hartford took immediate action to help aid the relief efforts raising nearly $1,700.
Third grade teacher Cassandra Lane launched the “Nickels for Nepal” fundraiser after receiving an email from the parent of one of her students reminding Ms. Lane of how this news hits so close to home.
With many families in the Smith community having immigrated to Connecticut from the Kathmandu region, there are five students from Nepal in Lane’s class alone. Shannon Jacovino reached out to Lane on behalf of her daughter Amalia who wanted to help, “I wanted to donate money because I wanted to help people so they didn’t get hurt more and so that they could find people stuck in the broken-down houses. I like to help people because it is a good thing to do, and when you help people you feel good.”
For two weeks students brought in money and recyclables, raising $1,645.97 which the student council voted to send the contributions to GlobalGiving (www.globalgiving.org/projects/nepal-earthquake-relief-fund/), an organization that has a history of coordinating funds between international donors and local charities in areas affected by disasters.
Smith STEM School “Nickels for Nepal” by the numbers:
• $41.35 from recyclables
• $625.62 in coins
• $587 in bills and
• $392 in checks
“By creating Nickels for Nepal, the students felt like they were playing an important role in helping out their classmates,” said Lane. “My students were so aware of the devastation and the need for money to rebuild homes and to buy food and medicine that they started creating posters at home encouraging others to ‘bring change to make change!’”
Before long, students were donating the entire contents of their piggy banks anxious to help make a difference. “I feel sad for all my friends’ family who don’t have a home or any toys,” said first grader Matthew Bonner who spent days scouring the sofa cushions for coins to add to his contribution.
“Not only is this fundraiser helping the thousands of people affected in Nepal,” added Lane, “it is helping us come together as a community and heal after a devastating event that is hard for elementary students to comprehend.”
Juan Melian, principal of Smith STEM School, feels that this fundraiser is especially helpful to those students who have family living in Nepal, who now “have a way to express their feelings. “This effort came from them, and is allowing them to support their homeland.”
Deebisha K., a student at Smith STEM School, who recently moved from Nepal in November, quickly got involved in this fundraiser as well as others around town. “I wanted to help because so many people died. Helping made me feel good.”
Nearly 400 students who go to school together coming together as a community with incredible generosity and kindness to help the families and friends of their classmates and those they will never know.