A Culture of Kindness

Whether observing Kindness Month or taking The Great Kindness Challenge or encouraging Random Acts of Kindness, there is a common theme taking place this month and last across the Westfield Public School District.

“I am so inspired by your generosity,” said Wilson principal Joseph Malanga at the closing ceremony for the Month of Hope on Jan. 31 during which the Wilson school community focused on a particular need each week, collecting donations for the Salvation Army, non-perishable items for a local food pantry, and school supplies for a Jersey City school, gathering pet food and treats of animals in need at an area animal shelter, and raising over $6,100 for the Special Olympics. 

At the closing assembly, Malanga also recognized 5th grader Gemma Schmid as a winner of the Martin Luther King, Jr. essay contest, along with more than 70 students who had been quietly observed doing something kind since the start of the school year.  Students and staff also enjoyed a visit from Razor, a 5-year-old Australian shepherd from the Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter.

Many of the elementary schools held “Souper Bowls” with friendly competitions to see which class could bring in the most canned food items for area food pantries. 

At Franklin School, students participated in the Great Toy Giveaway, a pilot program by Kids for Peace, the organization behind the Great Kindness Challenge.


“Kids for Peace and The Toy Foundation were looking for ways to promote peer to peer giving as a way of building kindness within communities,” says Franklin school counselor Lynn Slomczewski, adding that the Toy Foundation worked with individual companies to arrange toy donations delivered to Franklin. “Students from Franklin and McKinley created notes of friendship to attach to the toys.”


Fifth grade members of the Franklin Student Council boarded a bus on Feb. 4 to deliver approximately 1,000 toys to a charitable organization in Newark.  Other Great Kindness Challenge activities at Franklin included a door decorating contest with classes choosing kindness themes from books, movies and other sources, along with a collaborative activity using popsicle sticks to build a structure based on “Kindness Builds Bridges.”  Students also wrote kind messages on approximately 1,300 cup holders from a local coffee shop to be distributed around the community.  


“These are just a few of the many ways our school communities give back throughout the year,” says Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan.  “We are truly fortunate to have students, parents, and staff who believe strongly in making a difference.”

In March, the Westfield Public School District will observe its 3rd Annual Community Service Week, a districtwide coordinated effort organized by school Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) with families taking part in planned activities in support of homeless shelters, fighting hunger campaigns, senior citizens, rescue animal organizations and others in need of charitable help.

For a video on Wilson's Month of Hope, click HERE.

For a photo album of Wilson's Month of Hope, click HERE.

For a photo album of Franklin's Great Toy Giveaway, click HERE.

Source: Westfield Public Schools