Inspired by the HOPE Week Initiative introduced in 2009 by the New York Yankees, Mr. Joseph Malanga, principal of Wilson School and a fan of the American League professional ballclub, declared January the “Month of Hope” at Wilson.
Malanga called on the school’s faculty Acts of Kindness Committee to choose the charitable organizations to be recipients of the weekly donation drives during the month, as well as to coordinate assemblies and other service activities, including an inspiring address from James Malloy of the Ronald McDonald House.
Whether collecting more than $2,000 for the Ronald McDonald House, more than 1,000 items for local food pantries, nearly 2,000 books for children in a Brooklyn school, or blankets, chew toys and pet food for two animal shelters, the “Month of Hope” was a charitable tour de force.
“This month of outreach has proven itself to be the bridge - built on example and on character education - that has carried our students across to not only the month of February, but also to an enthusiastic awareness of the world around us,” Malanga wrote in a message to parents at the conclusion of the “Month of Hope.”.
As part of a special service event, Wilson fifth graders also made 200 sandwiches with supplies purchased by the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) and delivered to the St. Joseph Social Service Center in Elizabeth.
“We made a big impact on people who may be less fortunate. I think we should be proud of ourselves,” says fifth grader Aidan O’Donnell. “It felt good to help people in need and the animals who need homes.”
Malanga says the school also recognized more than 40 students nominated by their teachers as “Ambassadors of Kindness” for going “above and beyond” in their actions.
The “Month of Hope” created “such a climate for giving to those who are less fortunate,” says Malanga. The students understood that “it’s not all about receiving,” he adds. “In all my years, I’ve never seen such a commitment to something. There was this sense throughout the building of ‘what are we going to do this week?’”
“The ‘Month of Hope’ gives students another reinforcement to always be kind and to think of other people,” says art teacher Marylee Massenzio. “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
“I liked being involved in this. It was a really good program,” adds fifth grader Christopher Quinn. “I think we should do it again.”
School nurse and Acts of Kindness committee member Mary Beth Finn commends Wilson’s staff for taking part as well. The school plans for students and staff to celebrate the “Month of Hope” next January.
“The parent community is so supportive. Our PTO was very involved,” Malanga says. “It’s a school and home project, working for the good of all.”
At 9 a.m. on January 31, the hallways and classrooms filled with joyous sound as each student and staff member rang a simple bell for one minute.
Says Malanga: “It was a nice end to our “Month of Hope.”