By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – In New England, the bitter cold winds of winter persuaded folks to “bundle up” in cozy coats, hats, gloves and scarves. But for too many adults and children, warm winter accessories aren’t affordable. That’s why, in February, students and two teachers at Al-Hamra Academy made it their mission to help children in need by making 78 scarves for them.
When Noor Ali, a teacher at Al-Hamra Academy in Shrewsbury, read a Facebook post at the end of January, she saw it as a chance for her students to make a difference. The post was about Warm Up, Worcester, a grassroots organization founded by Pam Pollan that collects and distributes winter accessories to adults and children in need.
“I was immediately inspired, because I wanted my students to do something for their neighboring communities in these winter months. The idea was that we would make the scarves, and then kids at local homeless shelters or kids at public school who come during recess without scarves, would be able to benefit,” she said.
Ali has been leading community service projects at Al-Hamra since she joined three years ago.
“We’ve regularly helped at shelters, made dental hygiene blessing bags, cooked for shelters, participated in Earth Day cleanups, etc.,” she said.” I feel it’s very important for our students to not only feel a part of the larger community, but to also be active participants in making a difference.“
Consequently, Ali wanted the students to truly immerse themselves in the project from beginning to end. The students in her fifth- and eighth-grade classes, along with the sixth-grade students of teacher Sophia Anwaruddin, were each asked to contribute a few dollars to buy enough fleece for two scarves. Each child then made at least two.
“The pattern was simple,” Ali explained. “Once the fabric was measured and cut to a child’s scarf length, the student cut slits on both ends and knotted each one to make a tassel. Some of the boys had a very hard time making the knots, and there was a lot of knot-related humor in the room like ‘I cannot knot .’”
In addition to the “not knot” jokes, Ali was happy to see the children having fun while helping each other complete the project. She saw the eighth-graders help the sixth-graders finish their scarves and the kids who could knot tassels more quickly help students who weren’t as fast.
“They were all so proud to have been able to accomplish it, and I saw some great teamwork as they helped each other knot,” Ali said. “I was excited to see their level of energy for the project. I think one of the best things was that I didn’t send a letter home for the collection of funds, because I wanted the students to own the project, and they did a great job helping to fund it.”