By Louisa Benatovich, ECS Student Reporter
As the great Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” This scholastic year, ECS students have been making their own and many other lives better with the power of generosity. After countless hours of brainstorming, planning, and fundraising, the clubs and organizations at the school were able to touch the lives of individuals worldwide.
The Spanish Club, advised by Jamie Edwards, hosted a “Fiesta Fundraiser” in October. Planned for the sixth-graders, its goal was to raise money for Puerto Rican hurricane victims. After a fun-filled afternoon of piñata-bashing, queso-eating, and middle-school boisterousness, the Spanish Club was proud to send just under $100 to those who had lost their homes, possessions, and family members in the natural disaster. Ginna Hensel, the Spanish Club’s president, was happy to have organized an “eye-opening experience where we could have fun while helping out our Spanish-speaking friends.” The club hopes to have another ‘fun’draising event in the very near future.
After a few years of dormancy, Ellicottville’s French Club revitalized its popular Holiday Ornament Sale. Santas, snowmen, and other festive shapes were all made and hand painted by club members. On the ornaments’ strings was attached a tag: “Thank you for your donation to Heifer International.” Heifer International is a charity organization that, as its website proclaims, is “working to end hunger and poverty around the world by providing livestock and training to struggling communities.”
The entire school got on board and, after the week was up, club advisor Dolores Whistler was able to deposit $600 into the club’s account. The French Club then met to choose the animals. After some friendly debate, the students decided on a group of rabbits, a “Flock of Hope” (chickens, geese and ducks), a pig, some chicks, a couple of honeybee hives, an entire water buffalo, and, with the remaining tenner, a share of a sheep. Hannah DeChane, the club’s secretary, was pleased. “I was impressed with how many animals we were able to donate, and it feels good that our community is helping people from all over the world,” she said. The French Club’s next philanthropic endeavor will involve crêpes and Doctors without Borders.
ESPRA, or Ellicottville Students Preserving the Reading of America, took a field trip on Jan. 18. It wasn’t just any trip, however; they were on a mission. ESPRA members (advised by Holly Richardson) embarked into a blizzard bearing overflowing boxes of school supplies and books. The Teacher’s Desk, a local organization dedicated to providing free school supplies to low-income districts, was the destination. Set up like a department store, teachers are able choose from a wide selection of writing utensils, new and used books, stationary, janitorial supplies, stuffed animals, and much more.
Founder John Mika, the group’s guide for the day, recounted the moment when he found his calling. “After I retired from factory work, I began to substitute teach. I worked all over, from in the inner city to the Williamsville suburbs, and I noticed something that bothered me. In Williamsville, at the end of the day, there were pencils all over the floor. In Buffalo, few kids had a pencil for class, let alone other supplies.”
That day, everything clicked into place for John. He was going to make sure that every single child had a pencil. His dream has now blossomed into a far-reaching organization that changes the lives of many. After volunteering in the warehouse, ESPRA members left feeling like they had truly made a difference.
Though all the school’s clubs stand for different things, the overall theme and resonating message is ubiquitous. As a school and as a community, Ellicottville feels very fortunate. To truly appreciate what we have, we must give to those who don’t. The community has gone above and beyond to make this wonderful giving happen. ECS wishes this to be a thank you to all who donated, and a reminder that little things can make a big difference.