Spreading a Little Warmth
Spreading a Little Warmth
by Akim St.Omer

The winter so far has been harsh, weather-wise, and it's only January. Imagine how it must be for the thousands of people in New York City who are homeless.

Aerin Hong's second-grade class at Ethical Culture, who is being taught by Olga Stone while Hong is on maternity leave, is currently studying the needs and wants of New York City in social studies. They began the unit by talking about warmth and clothing, and the homeless quickly became a part of the conversation. Students made connections to the scarves they knitted as kindergartners and the quilts they made for the Lerata School, in Kenya, as first graders. The discussion then shifted to the students' skills and talents and how they can put these to work to help fellow citizens. Not surprisingly, knitting, sewing, and designing were unanimous responses. After a short period of reflection, the students decided to make scarves and shawls of their own design for the homeless.

Stone researched an organization called Win, founded in 1983, that strives to end the cycle of homelessness for women and children in New York City. They help more than 10,000 people a year, including some 6,000 children. Upon hearing of the EC students' scarf-making project, Cynthia Brito-Mena, an event coordinator at Win, said: "We would love to accept the generous donation of handmade scarves and shawls from the second-grade class [at Ethical Culture]. It's always inspiring to see children working together to provide essential items for their peers in the neighborhood."

The students in Stone's class gave up their free-choice and roof time to make the scarves and shawls for Win. Parents Anna Lyu and Katherine Krause were instrumental in organizing the "sew-ins" and collaborating with students on a project that embodies what ECFS is all about.