Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Siwanoy Serves initiative reconnects elementary students with community following pandemic

Last school year, the site-based council at Siwanoy Elementary School found that a gap between the students and the school’s community had been created by the Covid-19 pandemic. To improve the community and create a foundation of service for the children, the Siwanoy Serves initiative was created.

Liz Alderman, Annie Ferrante and Nadia Krivickova were the parent members who fueled the initiative. Principal Farid Johnson and teachers Paige Hefter, Priscilla Rossi, Suzanne Diano and Mickey Katz were also involved. The initiative sought to reconnect students with the community by running grade-wide volunteering projects.

At first, teachers inform the students about the various areas of community service to spark interest.

“The teachers use books to help them learn about the different topics,” said Alderman.

Each grade has a different organization they work with to ensure that the service varies and stays engaging every year.

“For instance, the Kindergarteners do a food drive for County Harvest that tells us about food pantries and what we need to collect to address food insecurity,” said Alderman. “They also read the book ‘Maddy’s Fridge,’ a story about a girl who does not have enough to eat, to address the topic.”

In first grade, classes helped the Humane Society Animal Shelter in New Rochelle by bringing in stuffed animals for the kittens along with food and towels. Second grade did a marker and coloring book drive for the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. The students drew cards to cheer up the patients, as well as used Biography Day to raise money.

In third grade, local veterans came into the school to teach the kids how to fold the flag and its importance, and answer any questions the children may have. In fourth grade, classes donated through the Sharing Shelf, a coat drive run in Port Chester that the PTA has been participating in for some time. Teacher Alyssha Miro also ran “Socktober,” a school-wide sock donation. This year, the fifth grade is again planning to volunteer with the senior citizens. Last year, the students read to them, and the plan this spring is for the students to sing a spring concert.

Alderman said an important goal now is to insure the program’s longevity beyond the terms of its founders. “We are working against the clock to make sure it can continue working when we are gone,” said Alderman. “Our goal is to button up the second year, make it perfect and be able to pass it forward.”

“As families cycle through, they graduate and move on with their volunteering traditions and connections” rebuilt after the pandemic, said Alderman. “Siwanoy Serves is so cool for the kids, and they will remember it. It’s really special, and we have a really great team. We took on a lot. I’m really excited to see what they will do next with it.”

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About the Contributor
Shannon Winston, Staff Reporter
Shannon is a junior at Pelham Memorial High School. She has written for the Pelham Examiner for the past year. She loves playing field hockey, lacrosse, sailing, and running indoor track. She enjoys engaging with her community through service and writing about town events in the Pelham Examiner.

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