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Counting Kindness

March 3, 2021 | Clara Buckley

Each year at Mustard Seed School, one way we mark the season of Lent is by participating as a community in the discipline of service. Students brought home a small can for collecting coins. The cans will remain at home for the next several weeks and they will bring them back to school again during Holy Week. This can is different from a money box your child may already have. The money box is to save money for ourselves, in our Lent can we save money to give to others.

This year, after careful consideration, 7th graders chose World Central Kitchen [WCK] whose global mission is to use the power of food to heal communities and strengthen economies in times of crisis and beyond. Our fundraising effort will focus on WCK’s Covid-19 Relief program that brings two communities affected by the pandemic together: those struggling to find their next meal; and local restaurants who will provide the meals.

We have a Lent can in our classroom. We earn pennies for the can by showing kindness and helping. Teachers acknowledge when we see a child being kind during the morning and, later, that child puts a coin in the can. We ask the children, “How have you seen a friend help?” so they are also looking out for classmates showing kindness. Sometimes a child is disappointed that they didn’t get to put a penny in the can one day. We remind the class that everyone can be kind and look for ways to help. (The teachers also make sure to include everyone) 

As we shake the can, we hear the kindnesses adding up!

Here are some ways the children have earned coins in the classroom:

  • Invite another to join you in play
  • Pick up everyone’s gloves from the heater at the end of the day
  • Help with a zipper
  • Make sure everyone gets a turn at the game
  • Give a hug when a friend is sad
  • Share blocks with a partner
  • Work together to pick up a large piece of snow at the park

Many families find ways for children to earn coins at home during Lent so that the gifts come from the children. Other families invite children to give from their own savings. Some families use the cans at a mealtime prayer and add coins as they name people and places for which they pray. There are many ways to offer a gift in this season and learning the habit of serving others is the goal.

Clara Buckley

Teacher, Rivers Class; Middle School Art

Clara Buckley’s teaching spans the ages of Mustard Seed School, from the youngest students in the preschool to students in the graduating class. She’s found many similarities between teaching three-year-olds and thirteen-year-olds!

As an art teacher who never enjoyed drawing, Ms Buckley’s hope is that each child she teaches discovers a way to create art that they enjoy, whether it be sculpture, printing, textiles, architectural drawing, or collage.

Ms. Buckley loves living in Jersey City, a place whose diversity and welcome for immigrants reflects her own family experience. When planning future travel destinations, art, food, and time with family are featured items on her list.

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