The students at Trinity Elementary, a K-5 school in Menlo Park, don't just give a passing nod to service learning; that element of the school's academic program is introduced in kindergarten and culminates with a comprehensive research project in the fifth grade.
This spring, the fifth graders celebrated their last year at Trinity by carefully selecting five organizations to honor with a Heart of Trinity Award.
In a letter from the school in May, the American Red Cross learned that it had been chosen to receive one of the awards — and an accompanying $100 cash prize that the students earned themselves. The Red Cross received the award for its work in the "medical needs" category.
"The Heart of Trinity Award is an award that the fifth-grade students give that shows how much we appreciate your organization," said the letter's 11-year-old student authors: Deanna, Chase, and Banks. "We like how you do so many things from all kinds of medical needs to natural disasters. We appreciate how much you do for our world and community; you make a big difference."
Kim Thacker, the private school's service learning coordinator, says the fifth-grade students were particularly impressed by the Red Cross's ability to respond wherever and whenever disaster strikes. "They particularly liked that the organization was big enough to be able to respond immediately and that there are people on the ground in so many different places," she says.
To accept the award and thank the students, Adrienne Bradford, donor relations officer for the Northern California Coastal Region; Al Mallamo, volunteer partner to Regional CEO Trevor Riggen; and Betty Fleming, a Red Cross volunteer, traveled to the school on June 6.
"We were so very honored to be there to accept the award and the prize from these terrific young students," Bradford says. "Not only were we able to meet the fifth-grade students in person, Betty was able to share a Pillowcase presentation with the class to empower the students with preparedness."
The Red Cross's Pillowcase Project, sponsored by Disney, is a preparedness education program for grades 3–5 that teaches students about safety skills, local hazards, and basic coping skills. During the training, Red Cross volunteers typically lead students through exercises in disaster preparedness and survival skills. Upon completion, students receive a pillowcase in which to build their personal emergency supplies kit.
At Trinity Elementary that day, the three fifth-grade representatives added a few additional comments about their class's selection of the Red Cross:
“We like how you are ready to travel places where something horrible has just happened and they really need help," Deanna said. "We like how you put effort into bringing families back together because it shows that you really value people."
Added Banks: "It’s important to help people who aren’t able to help themselves," he said. "We hope that our donation will help the American Red Cross continue to help the world in all different ways."
"We appreciate your amazing work in a variety of places," Chase chimed in. "The Red Cross gives the people food, water and shelter."
Pictured above, left: Trinity students (l–r) Deanna, Banks, and Chase are shown at the school with Red Cross representatives Adrienne Bradford and Al Mallamo.
Pictured above, right: The school's fifth-grade class poses with Bradford, far right, and Betty Fleming, in the back row, at the conclusion of their Pillowcase training. Fleming, a Red Cross volunteer, ran the training, and two students are shown displaying their preparedness pillowcases. (Photos by Kim Thacker)