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Jessica Provenz
Berkshire Country Day students and parents gather around Mayra Rodriguez (center) to hear words of thanks on her speaker phone from Puerto Rican friends who had received aid packages.

BCD community sends boxes of aid; hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rican families respond with many letters of gratitude 

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By Thursday, Jan 4, 2018 Learning

Stockbridge — Dozens of letters, drawings, and photos of thanks and gratitude have been pouring into Berkshire Country Day School (BCD) from the 78 families in Puerto Rico who received aid from the School’s community-wide drive on Make a Difference Day, the largest single day of service nationwide held annually.

Bulletin boads covered with letters of thanks from families in Puerto Rico. Photos: Jessica Provenz

The October 28, 2017 drive included support from the Student Council, Parents’ Association, and the wider BCD community of alumni and community members who passionately agreed that aiding families devastated by Hurricane Maria would be the focus of the BCD’s day of service. BCD students and families donated necessities including food items, batteries, flashlights, and sanitizer. On Make a Difference Day, 50 members of the BCD community including students, parents, faculty, alumni, and community members participated in the sorting, boxing and shipping of 78 packages. Neighboring businesses, Gould Farms, Taft Farms, and Big Y all provided food donations.

Alex Rodriguez, Chase-Vermeulen and Jennifer Capala pack boxes on Make-a-Difference Day at BCD. Photo: Jessica Provenz

Inside each box, students included cards, letters, drawings, and even tissue paper flowers made by the students of BCD. “It was love in a box,” said Associate Head of School Leigh Doherty, “It was a very proud moment for me to be part of the BCD community and to see a small idea become a very impactful one.” This day of service is in coordination with BCD’s ongoing Service Learning curriculum, which is learning through active and meaningful community service.

The boxes also included a self-addressed, stamped envelope with paper inside and a letter inviting the recipients to send some mail back. And mail back they did! Dozens of drawings, poems, photos, letters, videos, and even a handmade doll from grateful friends in Puerto Rico who continue to struggle to live life as they knew it before the hurricane hit. The gratitude, appreciation, and human-to-human connection were made palpable from each piece of mail written by children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly. “Our own students have been moved and delighted to read the mail, see the drawings and photos, and feel the full circle of love from the action our community took,” said Ms. Doherty, adding, “Thank you to the BCD community for coming together to show we care.”

Aurora Mills, Juliana Mills and parent Elizabeth Powell assembling goods to go to Puerto Rico. Photo; Jessica Provenz

Mayra Rodriguez, a BCD parent from Puerto Rico who maintains close ties to the Island, said, “I was truly in awe of the commitment and love expressed by all of our school community members. The love and support from the kids and adults asking ‘how can we help?’ speaks volumes about this place and this school.” A former educator, Ms. Rodriguez saw the larger goal for the drive as a chance for students to learn the impact a single person can have. “You don’t have to be a part of a huge movement to make a difference, hundreds of people continue to feel the ripple effect of each of us pitching in,” she said.

One hundred days after the hurricane, the majority of Puerto Rico remains without power and in dire need. To support aid going directly to Puerto Ricans who are struggling, contact Ms. Rodriguez at rodriguez.mayra77@yahoo.com.

 

Now in its 72nd year, Berkshire Country Day School is a Preschool through Grade 9 independent school. BCD opened new facilities in 2017: the Kevin Hirt Library and Learning Commons and the Kim and James Taylor Music / Performance Room, dramatically impacting the historic 27-acre Stockbridge campus. In 2017-18, BCD welcomed 41 new students and launched a full 2-year-olds program which follows the Reggio Emilio approach, practiced in the Preschool classrooms. For more details, please contact Jessica Provenz at 413-637-0755 x144 or jprovenz@berkshirecountryday.org.


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