The theme of this year's Special Week at Daly Elementary School was Save Our World. In addition to a host of educational programs and activities which exposed children to ways in which they can have a positive impact on their world, many Daly Elementary School students participated in a Read to Feed Program, sponsored by Heifer Project International. Heifer International is a non-profit organization that sends livestock, like cows, sheep, goats, flocks of chicks, for example, to the poor families in Third World countries. Heifer trains these families to raise their new animals, and shows them how these animals can improve their lives by providing a source of food and income, a window to a better future. Each family receiving livestock is asked to "pay it forward" ... they must make a commitment to give at least one of their animal's offspring to a needy neighbor in their village so that the gift of livestock will be shared and ultimately raise the standard of living for the entire community.
After learning that a single dairy cow can provide up to four gallons of milk a day, a single hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year, and a sheep can provide up to 18 pounds of wool per year, Daly students were motivated to raise money to purchase livestock for the Heifer Project. They asked their friends and families to "sponsor" them to read as many books as they could over a six week reading period. For each book they read, they received an agreed upon amount of money - from a few cents to a few dollars. While they were hoping to raise the $500 needed to send a heifer - a dairy cow - to a Third World family, they exceeded their goal more than seven-fold, raising a whopping $3,750 - enough to purchase animals for 29 different families! Daly students were able to sponsor the following gifts of livestock: three heifers, two water buffalo, two pigs, 13 flocks of chicks, three llamas, four sheep and two goats. As Daly Principal Elaine Ajello noted when she congratulated the children on their tremendous success, all that was missing was a partridge and a pear tree! In Mrs. Ajello's words, "Paying It Forward" resulted in our students learning a valuable lesson. Working on a worthy cause pays enormous dividends both in the gifts for others and the lessons learned in giving to others."
The Read to Feed Program, as part of Special Week, was run by a group of parent volunteers who formed the Special Week Committee. The program is available for participation by any school or organization, and more information can be found at www.readtofeed.org or www.heifer.org. After the program was complete, all Daly students voted on which animals to purchase, and then dedicated their purchases in honor of the members of the Port Washington Board of Education as well as in honor of their friends and fellow students at the other six Port Washington schools. And, in recognition of the "pay it forward" nature of Heifer International, Daly students have invited their fellow Port Washington students to likewise pay their gift forward, that is, to do something kind for someone in their world.
In light of the success of this program, both in terms of a literacy boosting tool and in terms of the tremendous impact Daly students were able to have on their world, Daly is hoping to make the Read to Feed program an annual event.