Sixty Madrone Montessori preschool students didn’t get candy in their bags during their annual Trunk or Treat event last week. Instead students and parents took part in a community service activity the school called Gather and Give.
Students at the El Dorado Hills school came dressed as cowboys and cowgirls, walked around to western-themed stations and gathered much needed supplies for Project RIDE (Riding Instruction Designed for Education), a nonprofit organization located in Elk Grove that provides therapeutic recreational horseback riding instruction to more than 500 children and adults with special needs. After collecting, students walked their bags over to a Project RIDE booth and delivered them to Community Outreach Manager Marisa DeSalles.
Leading up to the event, students spent two weeks learning about Project RIDE, including the valuable services that the organization provides, and then they participated in community service projects that benefited Project RIDE like making cookies for the horses and decorating custom-built birdhouses that were sold at the nonprofit’s first craft bazaar.
Students at Madrone Montessori are already familiar with participating in community service projects. Every week the students learn about a different non-profit related to their current unit of study and do a project for that non-profit. Their last unit of study focused on the Hawaiian Islands. Students decorated flip-flops for Keiki Cupboard in Maui and adopted a turtle named Goliath from Three Ring Ranch in Kona.
Last month the students learned about California and cattle ranches. In addition to collecting and donating supplies to Project RIDE, they learned about The Center for Land Based Learning and the first urban farm in West Sacramento.
Madrone added community service curriculum to its weekly studies when parent Kelli Plevyak discussed a nonprofit that she is involved with to the school director Krista Campbell. Pleyvak is the vice president of the board of directors for Little Hands Can, which has the mission to connect children with opportunities to serve their communities and make a positive impact.
Fast forward to today and the weekly lesson plans are rich with activities that show the students that they are not too young to make a big impact. The school also sends out a monthly newsletter that features a section called Simple Service for Little Hands, inspired by projects that are published on the Little Hands Can website, and provides service-related activities that parents can do with their children.
“This addition to the students’ education has already made a positive difference, not only for the community, both near and far, but for the students themselves,” Plevyak said. “In an environment where giving is also receiving, everyone benefits.”