A co-educational private school for Preschool–Grade Eight

Community Service For the Holidays and Beyond

What is the Service Learning Club?

At Far Hills, we promote a culture of social responsibility and community service where students become stewards and leaders emerge. When students connect directly with organizations that serve people in need, information and empathy produce ideas that impel students into action. Our students are fulfilled by serving others, and they seek out opportunities to do so. 

Cross-divisional projects with the Service Learning Club enable Upper School students to become teachers and mentors for Lower School students throughout the year. In addition to the direct collaboration with our Lower School and Upper School, we have many opportunities to come together and make a difference as an entire school. We have many ongoing partnerships throughout each year and always strive to develop new relationships with various organizations in the surrounding communities. A goal of the Service Learning Club is to have every grade involved in at least one of the projects over the year.

What is the objective of a student’s participation in the Service Learning Club?

An important aspect of the initiatives is the student’s ownership. My role is to support and mentor them as they plan and implement them. There are many levels to this:

  • Once the students develop a plan, they need to schedule meetings with Emily Seelaus, the Division Director of Upper School, to pitch their idea and gain approval. 
  • Then they need to reach out to the teachers of the grades they will be working with to schedule a convenient date and time for everyone involved. 
  • Some of the students shop with me to buy the items needed for our projects. 
    • This is a great opportunity for them to learn how to shop within a budget. It also makes them realize how expensive it is to live and buy simple necessities. 
  • Because they can’t physically visit the organizations, I arrange for representatives to meet with the grades that worked on the projects via Zoom. 

Who participates?

This year we have nearly 30 Grades 7 and 8 students participating in the Service Learning Club. As we began to work on the projects, other students started to join. The students in my homeroom have become very enthusiastic members. In fact, Grade 8 student Michael P. is using his own Amazon gift cards to buy another cart for us to use! While he was picking up the food donations from the Lower School classrooms, he decided that another cart would be helpful for the club to ease the stress for pick-ups from the classrooms and deliver donations to cars before they are dropped off to the organizations.

What’s the impact made so far this year?

  • 59 beautiful Purposeful Acts of Kindness Kits for Nourish NJ
  • 1,575 food items donated to God's Co-op Pantry

Current initiatives where Far Hills Country Day School students and families can help make a difference?

  • Christmas is for Children: collecting children's toys and clothing.
  • The Steeplechase Cancer Center: we're collaborating with The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office again this holiday season, collecting gift cards.
    • For more information and specific details about donation items, please refer to the communication sent via email on Friday, November 12.

Upcoming events throughout the year planned so far?

  • December/February/May: Purple Apron Meal kits will be put together with specific grades.
  • January/April: Breakfast Bags with Kindergarten and Grade 1 students.
  • Collaboration with Grade 2 and 4 students to develop projects that will benefit local animal shelters.
  • Monthly dress-down days will have a specific theme related to community service. The next dress-down will benefit the animal shelters by having students bring in an item needed for the shelter. Future themes are being developed.
  • Students Josselyn and Hannah are working with the Engagement and Philanthropy Department to plan a Day of Service celebration in the spring. The hope is that representatives from the organization will be able to attend. The girls are thinking of a fair-like atmosphere. This is still in the very early stages of planning, but exciting nonetheless!

Service Learning Club has multiple goals in and out of school:

  • We love to see the mentorship and leadership role our Upper School students take on for our Lower School students.
  • We love to see the impact our entire school can make when we come together to help those in need in our local communities. 

But our ultimate goal is for students to work with their families on ways to benefit the organizations. It is an amazing teachable moment. Stay tuned as we continue to plan future events. We look forward to working with you and your families on making an impact. 

Looking for ways to help outside of our Service Learning Club efforts?

  • Nourish.NJ
    • Check out how you can help this organization. Take your child shopping to buy the ingredients for a meal kit, a breakfast bag, or an act of kindness kit.
  • America's Grow a Row
    • This organization offers hands-on opportunities for your family in the summer months. The great thing is there is no age limit. All of the produce is donated to local food pantries.

You can also have your child buy some items at the grocery store and donate them to a local food bank or animal shelter. A lot of stores have a box set up for donations. You can also take your child to the food bank/animal shelter to deliver them personally.

We thank you for your support, partnership, and for sharing your kind-hearted children with us to allow for differences to be made. 

Here’s to a giving holiday season,

Kathy Iuliano