Liberty Club Helps Children in Foster Care

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Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)

A cross-curricular unit on water inspired students at Stonewall Middle School to start a new club. The Liberty Club’s first project leads to a generous donation to children in foster care.

The sixth-grade science and language arts classes at Stonewall Middle School learned about more than just water. Of course, students studied the watershed and learned about how there are locations that do not have sufficient water to sustain a healthy life. A news reporter visited the school as a guest speaker to share with students details about the Flint, Michigan water crisis. The speaker’s emphasis on how students are not not too young to help became the initial spark for the idea of the Liberty Club, a name that was chosen because it represents independence and power.

Judy Almond, a sixth-grade language arts teacher, explained that “coupled with the philosophy of our International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Stonewall Middle School, we made connections to our personal impact on healthy water, and other needs in the United States that students could impact.”

An article featured in ‘Time for Kids’ about fundraising was the final spark for sixth-grader Kimberley Cruz, who came up with the idea for the Liberty Club. Cruz said, “I want to help kids in foster care because they have to live with strangers.”

Through a Skype video conference, Cruz and her classmate, sixth-grader Jasmine Nativi, talked with social worker Shanee Howell in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Howell explained that kids in foster care may have to leave their homes in a rush, without many of their personal belongings. The few items they do take are often tossed into trash bags for convenience. After the interview, the students came up with the idea to purchase duffel bags for foster kids.

The Liberty Club sold snacks and baked goods to raise money. Sixth-grader Melanie Martinez cleaned houses with her mom to earn money to buy chips for the snack sale while several other students made baked goods. A parent donated papusas (thick, hand-rolled maize tortillas) for the sale.

Instead of just an empty duffel bag, the students filled the bags with useful items for a middle-school-aged child. These included a fluffy blanket, stuffed animal, pillow, toiletries, a journal, and a book.

“True to our IB culture, many staff members supported the Liberty Club,” Almond said. The staff made generous purchases of snacks and baked goods, and the school library donated books from the book fair. Family and consumer sciences teacher Esther Wright helped students make pillows and bookmarks to put in the bags. Students tucked cards they wrote into the bags to add a personal touch.

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