One of the things seventh-grade science teacher Joe Landoni admires about his students ages 12-14 is their compassion for others, specifically victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Students were learning about hurricanes just before the massive typhoon hit in early November.
“There just happened to be a typhoon forming in the West Pacific and we watched satellite images,” Landoni said.
“After the storm a lot of kids had seen the footage and we started discussing the disaster. The first thing the kids wanted to know was how they can help. The first idea was sending food and clothing, but I told them that wasn’t very practical.”
Landoni reasoned that a monetary donation to World Vision, an organization that provides food, shelter, water and medicine to victims of natural disasters, would be the better plan, so he took a large graduated cylinder and told his students they could donate if they wanted to.
“I didn’t dwell on the damage and destruction in class in the knowledge that my students could help these people who had next to nothing to begin with,” Landoni said, adding that a poignant photo of a barefoot little girl wearing a man’s T-shirt drove the point home for him and his students.
“We did talk about what it would be like not to have much. The students wanted to know how they could help — I didn’t have to push or prod them to help people they didn’t know,” Landoni said.
Over four or five days coins and cash grew in the cylinder and when the fundraiser was over, Landoni’s 125 students had donated $120 for World Vision to help survivors.
“I didn’t offer any rewards for donating,” Landoni said. “It needed to be from their hearts because it would make more of an impact. The kids were quite proud as they watched the coins build because they knew that the money was going to World Vision.”
He added that ironically, his students were studying about earthquakes when the 7.0 Haiti earthquake struck in 2010 and held a similar fundraiser for its victims, again raising $120.
“It’s an import part of the curriculum to teach that kids are global citizens and can make a difference,” Landoni said. “When these events happen, I can certainly make it a teaching moment.”