SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Students at Hershorin Schiff Community Day School in Sarasota have seen the devastation surrounding the conflict in Ukraine and wanted to find a way to help.
“I got an email a few weeks back from the fifth grade,” said Head of School Dan Ceaser. “The fifth grade said we understand and we are watching what is going on in Ukraine and our hearts are hurting and we want to do something.”
At the end of each school year, students donate all of the “tzedakah” or charitable funds they raise to a nonprofit or cause of their choice. This year was a bit different; the students wanted to act now.
Wednesday morning, the school donated all the funds they raised so far this year to an orphanage based out of Odessa, Ukraine. Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz with Chabad Lubavitch of Sarasota and Manatee Counties helped connect the school with the orphanage.
The students presented a check of $520 to the Mishpacha Orphanage Odessa. The money will go toward food, shelter and other necessities
“When those children hear the children in a far away country that they never met, cared enough to give some of their money, it warms up their hearts,” said Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz. “Aside from providing material, food and shelter, it makes them have hope that there is going to be a better universe.”
83 orphans ranging from one month old to 18-years-old escaped the city of Odessa last week. During a video call with the students Mendy Wolff, who assists with the orphanage, described the frightening conditions in the days before their escape.
“One day, we heard the siren,” said Wolff. “If a missile is flying into the city, there is a siren which says that you have to run, run, run to a basement or some bomb shelter, because there will be some boom somewhere in the city and they don’t know where. On Thursday morning and then on Friday and then on Shabbat and then Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, for six days we heard a siren.”
The students hope the funds and handmade cards will bring the refugee children a sense of hope.
“I am hoping that it can give them the hope that they are going to live a better tomorrow and that they’re going to stay safe and they’re going to grow up living and having a happy life,” said a fifth grade student named Miles.
Ceaser told 8 On Your Side he’s proud of the fifth grade class for coming forward to help other children.
“For them to be able to actually see firsthand where their charity is going, to see that it actually matters is a lesson that they will carry with them, and hopefully make the world a better place,” said Ceaser.