I am fortunate to witness daily acts of kindness and charity in classrooms and hallways, on the playground, in the cafeteria, on the field, court or track, on the phone, in offices, during conversations and throughout the New Albany-Plain Local School District campus, the city of New Albany, Plain Township and our neighborhoods and businesses.
We can't always control the events happening to or around us, but we can control how we choose to respond to them, which will impact the outcome created.
Kindness, the quality of being friendly, generous or considerate, is and should be expected to be demonstrated among the 5,064 students and 643 staff members serving students and families daily in our schools.
The responsibility to act with kindness extends far beyond words and must be modeled in our behaviors, as our students always are observing everyone around them to develop lifelong habits. Again, sometimes, one may need to simply press pause and get their mind right to step up and make a difference.
Our students are fortunate to be surrounded by loving and involved families, dedicated and knowledgeable faculty, staff members and administrators in our schools, and a kind, caring and charitable community who step up every day.
Charity, the voluntary giving of help, abounds in many partnerships within our schools.
From PTOs, mystery readers, business partners, philanthropists, senior citizens, local officials, the New Albany Community Foundation, clergy, the New Albany Food Pantry, and more, our students bear witness to outstanding role models dedicated to helping in our schools and our community daily.
Our community has adults, children and families in need.
Our school district provides approximately 300 free or reduced-price lunches daily to students in grades kindergarten to 12.
During 2018, approximately 180 New Albany families received nearly 50,000 meals from the New Albany Food Pantry.
Today, school families continue to receive food, personal-hygiene items and other grocery, laundry or household products from the New Albany Food Pantry every two weeks, unless in crisis, for immediate needs. We also have two homeless students in our school district.
Opportunities for kindness and charity are present throughout our schools and our community.
We are very thankful to all who choose to help make a difference, but I am excited about a new community partner, Neighborhood Bridges.
Westerville resident Rick Bannister founded Neighborhood Bridges, a 501(c)(3) charity organization, in January 2017 to help homeless children and others by posting needs online and asking the community to help.
Neighborhood Bridges serves children and families in Dublin, Gahanna, Grove City, Hilliard, New Albany, Upper Arlington, Westerville and Worthington.
Neighborhood Bridges is grounded in kindness and has provided direct care and support to more than 7,000 central Ohio children and families since its launch.
Area directors in each community serve as volunteers to verify and coordinate opportunities for kindness. For New Albany, we are fortunate to have Vineetha Thomas and Lynda Peel-Brown as our area directors for Neighborhood Bridges.
Recent acts of kindness in New Albany via Neighborhood Bridges include winter hats and mittens for food pantry families, children's books, an eye exam and glasses for a student, and a dryer repair/replacement request for a family in need.
Our school counselors serve as advocates for this program and many others in our school district. Any New Albany Plain-Local family in need should not hesitate to have a confidential conversation with any school counselor or administrator.
Individuals or businesses who want to help are encouraged to go to neighborhoodbridges.org/newalbany-oh to learn more or call my office at 614-413-7102 to discuss other opportunities for continued kindness or charity.
Remember, no act of kindness or charity, no matter how small, ever is wasted.
Thank you to everyone who chooses to make a difference.
Michael Sawyers is superintendent of the New Albany-Plain Local School District.