Sometimes help and support can come by way of something as simple as a hat.
That's why students in grades K-4 at the Wellington School worked with volunteers to make "dream hats" for patients at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.
Teacher Mary Beth Parker said the students helped to make hats with nurses and other volunteers from the James who began the Dream Hats program.
"The volunteers for Dream Hats meet monthly to sew hats for patients who are battling cancer," Parker said. "Wellington Lower School families were invited to join them and help with the hats."
Jane Czekajewski, a nurse from the James, also worked with students at the Wellington Lower School last month, explaining why and how the organization was formed and showing them how to make the hats.
"She emphasized that anyone can make a difference," Parker said. "Jane and a group of volunteers set up stations including sewing, cutting, turning and tagging.
"Each class had the opportunity to visit the stations and make hats. By the end of the day, the Lower School students made 200 hats," she said.
Parker said Czekajewski also spoke to her first-graders last year.
"I was impressed by how a group of ordinary people decided to take something they love -- sewing -- and use their talents to help others," she said. "I feel this is an important message for children to hear.
"I want them to feel empowered to use their own talents to make a difference," she said. "I also chose this project because it provides students with an authentic, hands-on experience. They were able to physically make something that would bring joy to others."
Parker said the hat-making sessions were valuable lessons for the Lower School students.
"The students learned that anyone can make a difference," she said. "It was also an important lesson in compassion and generosity. They learned that by donating their time and talents, they can help others."
Parker said her goal is to make service learning an ongoing and meaningful experience for all Lower School students. She said service learning can play an integral role in the development of an individual's character.
"By integrating service learning into the curriculum, students have the opportunity to develop life skills and values, such as teamwork, caring and kindness, problem-solving and compassion," she said. "By allowing students to participate in service learning, we can develop positive character traits, teach civic responsibility and enrich our students' education."