Bringing charity to the classroom this International Volunteers Day

‘Tis the season of nativity plays, Christmas crafts and homemade decorations. With festive cheer around every corner, why not look into some of the fantastic organisations your class and school can help this festive season?

With so many charities working hard for a number of causes, it’s hard to know where
to start. However, there are plenty that champion children’s education around the world, who wouldn’t usually have access to the same level of education we see across the UK.

The Gathimba Edwards Foundation was created in 2013 by co-founders Gideon Gathimba and Myles Edwards.

The charity works to improve the lives of children in Kenya by providing meals and school uniforms, and offering sponsorships so they can continue with their education.

Primary school teacher, Lisa McConachie, got involved with the Gathimba Edwards Foundation, a local Aberdeen charity, after attending an information session about their build trips. Lisa and her husband visited Kenya in July to take part.

“I did some fundraising with the school before I went, so my pupils knew I was going,” Lisa explains. “When I came back I shared what I’d seen with my class, and we had an assembly. I think it was really good for them to see how others live.”

CREATIVE

It can be hard to come up with something imaginative and fun for your pupils, that will also teach about the importance of giving back during the festive period.

“A great idea is a reverse advent calendar: every day ask a different pupil to bring in an item of food or a toy or clothing, and at the end of the month, you have a box of things that can be donated to a food bank or gift drive,” suggests Lisa.

“Even just talking about it with the kids and explaining that some people aren’t as fortunate starts a conversation.”

Retired teacher, Ann Crowcombe, volunteers for SOS Africa, the UK charity empowering children in South Africa through education.

The charity funds school places from sponsorships, and takes pupils to and from school, providing meals and homework help while at school, too.

“One head mistress spent the night in a prison to raise money for the charity,” explains Ann. “We’ve had people run half marathons, and abseil to raise money for us. There are so many things you can do.”

GIVING BACK

No matter how big or small, if every class did something generous for charity this Christmas, it would make a big difference. As the saying goes: “change starts with you.”

“It’s really important for teachers to teach about being charitable,” adds Ann. “If we’re not charitable, what have we got? If you can’t empathise with someone and put yourself in their shoes, how can you communicate with them effectively?”

“Teachers lead by example, and we have to set a good example for our pupils,” adds Lisa.

“Of course, it’s not just teachers who should be encouraging giving back, we need to get everyone involved. But it’s something we should all be doing, and encouraging others to do, too.”

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