In this season of giving, the Country School community is living the school mission by working collaboratively and serving the common good. In addition to filling the can van with non-perishable food items for local soup kitchens and food pantries, Country School families have donated hundreds of winter clothing items to refugee families and raised more than $1,200 for the hurricane recovery effort on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Each week since the collection began in early November, Liz Lightfoot '77, P '05, '07, '08, '12 and Sandy Broadus P '19, '22, '22 have delivered boxes and bags filled with new and gently used clothing items — from outgrown snowsuits and snow boots to brand new hats and gloves — to Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services in New Haven. To date, they have made six deliveries, and each time they arrive with their arms filled with donated items, IRIS employees say, "Here comes The Country School!"
A box filled with snowsuits heads to IRIS.
"Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this effort," said Liz, who works in alumni relations and outreach at The Country School and, with Sandy, also volunteers in a Mommy and Me program at IRIS, working with newly resettled refugee children while their mothers attend English language classes. IRIS has welcomed 311 refugees in 2017, primarily from Afghanistan and the Congo and also Sudan. For many, the colder months will provide a particular challenge.
"It has been moving to watch over the last several weeks as children arrive at class wearing new, warm clothing, some of which, no doubt, was provided by our school community," Liz said. "As IRIS Executive Director Chris George wrote in a thank you note to The Country School community, 'Refugees establish themselves quickly and make our communities more vibrant. Thank you for playing a role in easing their transition and providing them some of the comforts of home.'"
Liz offered a special shout out to Sheila Salkin P '06, '08, '10, '16 and Ciao Bella, her clothing store in Madison, for donating two huge bags filled with brand new hats, gloves, and scarves to refugee families. "Other alumni families also pitched in when they saw our call for winter clothing donations, showing that a Country School education really does last a lifetime," Liz said.
Liz also thanks everyone who has purchased a tee shirt to benefit the hurricane recovery effort at the Gifft Hill School in St. John. "Last week we were able to send a check for $1,220 to Gifft Hill, supporting their effort to educate all children on the island in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria," Liz said, adding that we are enormously grateful to alumnus Robbie Cozean, Country School class of 2016, and his mother, Laura Miller, a Country School trustee, for designing and producing the shirts.
When they learned about the damage on St. John, Laura and Robbie were moved to do something, in part out of gratitude to Dr. Laurie Bottiger, who served as Head of School at The Country School from 2011-2014 and is now Head of School at Gifft Hill. They were also inspired by the school's commitment to help the broader St. John community by waiving tuition and opening its doors to all students on the island. Explaining in an email why they wanted to produce the shirt, Robbie and Dr. Miller said this:
Selling the shirts will allow our school community to donate needed funds for rebuilding, but will also serve as a reminder that we are forever tied to others. Dr. Bottiger implemented many educational advances which have become part of the fabric of our community, and likewise, we hope our donation will continue to re-thread her community.
To watch a video from Gifft Hill, click below.
The shirts, featuring the logos of both The Country School and Gifft Hill (see photo below) will be sold along with items from The Roost, the school store, during our holiday program next week. You may also arrange to pick up shirts from Liz Lightfoot (email firstname.lastname@example.org). In January, the school will hold a "Wear Your Gift Hill Shirt" Dress Down Day to celebrate global citizenship. Stay tuned for more details.
Long-sleeved adult shirts are $20 and short-sleeved youth shirts are $15. All proceeds go directly to Gifft Hill to support the school's post-hurricane efforts.
"From its earliest days, The Country School has called on students to serve their community and the larger world," Liz said. "It is so gratifying to see that tradition continue in such a strong way today."
The Community Service logo below was created by a student in 2007.