Thanks to the connections built by former CFS volunteer and current Phillips Academy student Lauren Howard, Cloud Forest School student ambassadors joined the tradition of Non Sibi, or “Non-Self” day this past October 1st. This day of community service in Andover, Massachusetts has now been embraced by our students here in Monteverde, who conducted a community clothing and food drive to benefit families in the local community with high financial need. While we all eagerly anticipated the prospect of engaging our high school students in a community service project, few foresaw the impact we would achieve.
Lauren brought Non Sibi Day to the attention of CFS admin and staff last August during her second visit to the Cloud Forest School as a volunteer through the Renbrook School’s Summer Adventure group visit. Lauren presented the history of Non Sibi Day, a traditional day of service sponsored by Phillips Academy and held yearly on October 1st. As the recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. grant provide by Phillips Academy, Lauren proposed to use some of these funds to support another chapter of Non Sibi Day, thus branching out in an international effort of student service by incorporating the Cloud Forest School.
The CFS Student Ambassadors (high school grade representatives) came together to organize and execute a food and clothing drive to benefit needy families in the greater Monteverde community. They first publicized the drive through local list serves, community announcements, flyers and word-of-mouth. They then helped to collect items from classrooms and set up a collection booth at the local weekly farmer’s market. We then used the funds donated by Lauren to purchase additional food and household products to add to the already-donated items. Finally, the donations were sorted and distributed.
While it was always anticipated that we would collect a fair amount of donations and be able to purchase even more with the funds donated by Lauren, our staff and student ambassadors were all surprised and thrilled with the final results. In the end, we had collected a monumental amount of clothing, shoes, hygiene products and non-perishable food—so much that we were able to divide the donations into thirds and still deliver very sizable care packages to three families who had been identified as ideal recipients.
Thanks to Lauren’s beautiful idea, the motivation of staff and students, and the charitable spirits of Monteverde community members, a great difference was made in the lives of three families who were desperately in need of these donations. We all agree that the tradition of Non Sibi Day will continue here at the CFS, and hope that this spirit of selfless giving and service will continue to spread around the world.