Big Help

March 15, 2012

Albert M. Adams wrote a paper in 2000 about “the progressive notion that human beings have both the desire and the capacity to make the world a better place.”

At Walden School, students are educated to thoughtfully question the status quo and to make the world a better place by positively contributing to their world. Big Help Day provides the opportunity for students to practice philanthropy and volunteerism in child-centered activities. Walden Director Matt Allio exhorted the students working on Big Help Day to remember public service as an integral part of their school’s mission and to build on this elementary foundation as they grow up into adults and continue to make the world a better place.

Children may learn the value of philanthropic behavior by observing important adults in their lives modeling voluntary behavior intended to help others. Cognitively, children can learn the benefits, causes, and effects of philanthropic behavior through direct instruction and knowledgeable explanation from an informed adult. The most effective way to learn about philanthropy may be through engaging in giving and serving activities.  Big Help Day at Walden was conceived to teach students by modeling and explaining community service, and providing opportunity for experiential learning.

This year, Walden families gathered for a simple breakfast on Saturday, March 10 and listened to organizer Seth Freeman (parent of Hannah’18) describe the five projects available both on and off campus. Centinela Feed & Pet Supplies donated catnip and expertise to help families create dozens of cat toys from gently used baby socks. The toys were donated to the Pasadena Humane Society. A crew of crafters decorated recycled tin cans with fabric and ribbons, before adding a flowering plant. At the end of the day the potted plants were delivered to North Lake Villas Retirement Home, the site of the Variety Show earlier in the day. At the Variety Show, students and parents performed a musical program that had toes tapping and brought lots of smiles to resident seniors. “Wonderful! These are some cute kids!” one grateful resident declared.

A different group of Walden students used their environmental science knowledge to teach their parents about stewardship for the world by weeding and mulching at the Arroyo Seco “plateau.” Back on campus, families decorated paper gift bags that were then filled with approximately 100 donated books, bookmarks, and pencils. These gifts were included in a donation to Union Station. In the weeks leading up to Big Help Day, the Walden School community collected canned goods, paper items, and diapers to help Pasadena’s Union Station provide services to homeless and low-income people. People unable to attend on Saturday were still able to contribute to a meaningful project for Big Help Day.

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