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Riverdale Community Action Day: Doing Good For Others
Posted 11/24/2014 03:41PM

The 6th Annual Riverdale Community Action Day (RCAD) on Saturday brought together more than 600 alumni, students, faculty, and parents for a day of fun that benefitted local and global organizations.

“Of all the wonderful events held at RCS, this is my favorite,” said Maryanne Fraleigh, Assistant to the Head of Lower School and one the Lower School Service Learning Coordinators. “It’s so touching to see faculty, staff, parents, students, and administrators come together as a community to do good for others.  I’m proud to be a part of such a meaningful experience.”

Added Erin Constabile, a Grade 2 head teacher and the other Lower School Service Learning Coordinator, “As usual, RCAD was buzzing with energy and excitement. All of the children I worked with were engaged in the various projects and happily collecting money for the Change For Changes drive. We raised more than $200! It is always a very special day.”

RCAD Co-Chairs Jessica Greenfield Chestman ’96/P’26/P’28, Brittany Podell Levin ’95/P’25/P’28, Lara Englebardt Metz ’96/P’26, Rachel Bloomgarden Spielman ’90/P’21/P’23, and Sakura Yagi ’05 worked with a team of nearly 50 alumni, parent, and faculty volunteers to organize this year’s event.

In addition to collecting money for the Change For Changes drive, several organizations will be the recipients of a variety of other collected items: pet supplies for Adopt NY; clothing for The Salvation Army; baseball and softball equipment for Homerun Hopefuls; non-perishable food for New York Common Pantry and Robin Hood; and new toys and gifts for Mercy Center, to name a few. Old electronics will be given to Net Tech Electronics Recycling as well.

Nine people donated their hair to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program, which creates wigs for cancer patients; Lower School Early Learning Director Rebecca Greller was among those who grew their hair for the occasion. As a reward, they each received a haircut by well-known NYC hair stylist Mark Garrison, who donated his time to this cause. The Red Cross’ blood drive also was successful.

Treat House, owned by Christopher Russell ’88, donated Rice Krispies treats for participants to decorate; the money raised at this station (as well as the accompanying bake sale) went to the Riverdale Faculty Fund. Treat House goodies also were used by several of our creative administrators in a friendly competition, with the final creations auctioned off to raise additional money for the faculty fund.

Hands-on activities included writing get-well cards for veterans at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx; decorating gift boxes for plush toys that will be given to the children of the Harlem Children’s Zone; creating bookmarks to accompany donated books for several schools; painting flowerpots for the Hebrew Home for the Aged; and decorating bags to hold donated food for local food pantries, among other fun crafts.

New this year were two off-campus chances for participants to really get their hands dirty. I was particularly excited about the new off-site service learning offerings to Endor Park and Greyston Gardens. These off-site excursions further deepen our already-existing and wonderful partnerships with two local partners in the Bronx and Yonkers,” explained Rachel Klein, Director of Hill Campus Service Learning as well as the Middle School Service Learning Coordinator.

Ten people went to Greyston Gardens in Yonkers to help them get their garden beds ready for winter, while 30 volunteers gathered at Endor Community Garden — just down the block from the Hill Campus — to clean up leaves. “I am so amazed at the work that was accomplished [at Endor],” Klein said. “It was only when we ran out of garbage bags that we had to stop working. Otherwise, I have a feeling some of those kids would still be out there raking!”

For her part, Laura Spalter, Riverdale’s community partner in Endor, said, “RCS put together an amazing event. We loved being part of it. Good work all around!”

Perhaps Klein summed up RCAD 2014 best in a note to volunteers: “It is amazing what can happen when we work together! We hope that this day is one day of many that you participate in service learning this year.”


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