When Chestertown resident Maggy Ross was assigned the annual 7th grade Philanthropy Project by her Social Studies teacher at St. Anne’s Episcopal School, it wasn’t hard for her to choose which charity to recommend: the Humane Society of Kent County. She has visited numerous times to play with orphaned kittens and lonely dogs. Her compelling research presentation about her local humane society was chosen by her peers and teacher to be funded with a generous gift of $450 to help the shelter.
“Maggy’s presentation illustrates her deep passion for animals and her clear understanding of the funds needed to support our mission of animal rescue, animal adoptions and community education” explains Executive Director Jane Welsh. “We always need cash and in-kind donations, and this gift will help develop a new summer program and support current work at the shelter.”
“The goal of the Philanthropy Project is to help our students to experience the feeling that comes from promoting the welfare of others, and to see the value of acts of compassion,” notes St. Anne’s Head of School Peter Thayer. “Combined with our graduation requirement of 20 hours of community service and 8th grade essays about the experience, we structure a meaningful commitment to service learning at St. Anne’s. We want our students to understand early that they are part of something larger than themselves.”
Each 7th grader must pick a non-profit organization for which they have a strong personal or emotional connection. “They are encouraged to research a charity with ties to their local community,” says Social Studies teacher Mr. Ryan Brown. “Working alone or with partners, our students were tasked with contacting their charities directly via phone or email and building a case for support. Using PowerPoint or Prezi, their goal was to show their classmates why their charity was deserving or in need of a donation. Then students voted anonymously for the top prize recipients.”
The 7th grade Philanthropy Project began when St. Anne’s first opened in 2002 with the idea coming from a parent who worked for the Warren Buffett Foundation. It has become one of the highlights of the 7th grade experience at St. Anne’s. Top recipients of the project this year included Doctors Without Borders and two Delaware charities: Little Sisters of the Poor and Down Syndrome Association of Delaware.