Multiple TDS classrooms came together to learn about Martin Luther King Jr. and joined forces to honor his legacy in a unique way to help immigrants in Chicago as part of an agency-wide Martin Luther King Day commemoration project.
The day’s celebrations began with Jessica Schaffer, Director of HIAS Chicago at JCFS speaking to students about the spirit and importance of commemorating Dr. King as well as explaining HIAS Chicago’s work of welcoming immigrants. After discussing with Jessica what it means for an immigrant to come to America, students were encouraged to think about symbols that represent our country and its ideals. “The first thought from one of my students was to create a peace sign,” said Stephanie, TDS high school teacher. “A few of my students wrote ‘Welcome to America.’ Others thought about creative ways to illustrate the American flag.”
Equipped with these illustrations, TDS students then decorated squares of fabric with these friendly, welcoming messages as a part of an agency-wide project to create quilts for Welcome Blanket, an organization that collects blankets and quilts for distribution to refugee and immigrant families across the US. Students' finished fabric squares were collected along with other fabric squares designed by JCFS staff and transformed into 10 beautiful, warm quilts – all sewn by volunteers among JCFS staff!
In addition to creating these gorgeous quilts, students held a food and book drive throughout JCFS in January that yielded five boxes of Kosher items that were donated to The ARK and eight boxes of books donated to Bernie’s Book Bank. Students also donated a box of cookies, three boxes of hygiene products and three boxes of food to The Night Ministry, a Chicago-based organization that works to provide housing, healthcare, and human connection to homeless and needy teens and young adults. Reflecting on the significance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and her students’ efforts to help the larger community, TDS high school teacher Stephanie commented, “My students were able to be a small part of a bigger picture. This project was a huge success, and my students were able to make a positive impact.”