YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood

A Little Goes a Long Way: How One Girl’s Class Project Helped Those in Need

As educators, every so often we are bestowed with the gift of watching the seeds we plant take root and blossom into the flowers that help beautify the world. Life, through the eyes of a child is unblemished, truthful, full of promise and immediate. It matters not whether this is your own child, or one you have come to know. Whether in a classroom setting, summer camp or function of neighborhood or community, these child’s eyes will ultimately transform what we typically perceive to be beautiful into a greatly enhanced version of its original state.

The lessons we learned while organically sitting around a utilitarian lunch table in the Y auditorium during Shalom Y’all (a weekly informal Jewish culture class) took on greater meaning once they left the doors of the Y, accompanied by their child-owners. These same concepts, ideas, and values wove their way into a magical tapestry and made an impactful appearance once returned back to the Y with one such child, Jenna Caron. 

Jenna’s mom, Donna Caron, emailed me late one day in the Fall 2013 to tell me that she and Jenna had embarked on a journey of faith and life lessons via a tzedaka (charity) box Jenna brought back from Shalom Y’all one afternoon. Jenna and her mom would fill the tzedaka box each day with a coin or two, maybe a dollar. But it was a constant labor of love without fail. 

Jenna said that this tzedaka/charity she and her mom collected was going to “people who needed help. Some children don’t have toys or clothes.” “This tzedaka box is now filled”, Mrs. Caron wrote. “Jenna would like to bring it back to you, to the Y”. I stared at the words, not in disbelief but overcome with emotion which can only come from seeing life through the eyes of a child. On Wednesday April 24, the tzedaka box was brought back into the Y, carried proudly by its child-owner Jenna, her face beaming. With these steps, Jenna is embarking on a special journey which readies us for a deeper understanding of, and connection to, the world at large. It is truly a blessing to be a part of such a transformative event.

With appreciation to the Y for facilitating these very needful programs and for families like Jenna’s who take these programs to the next levels, and beyond:

– Cyndi Rand, Jewish Culture Director

About the Y
Established in 1917, the YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood (the Y) is Northern Manhattan’s premier Jewish community center — serving an ethnically and socio-economically diverse constituency — improving the quality of life for people of all ages through critical social services and innovative programs in health, wellness, education, and social justice, while promoting diversity and inclusion, and caring for those in need.

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