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Festive charity at ISB

Festive charity - woolly hats

By Nick Yates, ISB Communications

’Tis the season of goodwill, and there’s certainly been plenty of that at the International School of Beijing (ISB) as students have led and given to a number of charitable initiatives recently.

ISB Elementary School classes donated books to the Winter Holiday Giving Tree. Supported by the Migrant Children’s Foundation and the Elementary School Library, this activity from December 2 to December 17 called for gifts of new books in English or Chinese suitable for young children.

In the Middle School, a club run by students organized a winter clothing donations drive for a local orphanage. Members of this club, named iHelp, also knitted over 100 woolly hats for babies.

“Winter is here, the coldest season of the year,” wrote Grade 7’s Samantha C in an account of the donations drive. “With winter comes… a season of giving and sharing. We are privileged with a heating system in the school, but we don’t forget the people who are less fortunate!”

Festive charity - knitting

Among numerous schemes year-round raising money for good causes at ISB, another festive charitable initiative came in the shape of an organic apple sale to help keep Chinese orphans with relatives in their hometowns and in education. This is a tradition that has been in place at ISB since 2005, with proceeds going to the charity Children of Madaifu.

The apples came from Gansu, one of China’s poorest provinces, and ISB community members were able to buy them individually or in boxes. At the end of November, raising awareness of the scheme, ISB’s Staff Wellness Council provided more than 1,500 Madaifu apples to Elementary School Students to take home and to staff and older students during the day. ISB sold more than 670 kg of apples and raised more than 20,000 RMB for Children of Madaifu, in a record year for the school’s involvement with the charity.

At ISB, knowledge and skills are considered vital, but teachers know that at least as important as those knowledge and skills are character development and a commitment to serving others. ISB has built up a strong service-learning program through involvement with international charities and local organizations.

Even the youngest students get involved – the Elementary School Service Council is an after-school activity run by students and supervised by adults. It was set up to give students opportunities to take compassionate action and contribute to community well-being.

Festive charity - Giving Tree collage
Elementary School students enjoyed the process of gifting books to the Giving Tree

As well as being a chance to act benevolently, service is a chance for students to build skills as they research, plan, and implement projects to ensure they’re truly meaningful. The iHelp students, for example, conducted a needs analysis that eventually established that the orphanage they worked with would benefit most from what they could offer.

Jo Binns, who joined ISB last academic year as the school’s Service and Experiential Learning Coordinator, said, “It’s great to see our younger students at ISB giving to those in need and learning through service. Taking time to consider those less fortunate than themselves and to apply their skills to organizing and contributing to charitable initiatives is something that can really benefit students and others.

“At ISB, we value service as a means to help communities outside the school and as a way to inspire our own community. This kind of work also gives our students freedom to explore and build the strong relationships that we think are so important in learning and in serving others.

“In many cultures, it’s a seasonal tradition for people to count their blessings and feel a spirit of generosity around the winter holiday period. But it’s important that we try to keep this alive year-round, as we do at ISB with countless service clubs active in all months. Charity is not just for Christmas!”

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