Yesterday morning my colleague, Zazu, and I frequented Freedom High School yet another time to check in on our school supplies drive; little did we know how comically disastrous it would be.
7:00am with no breakfast or coffee is never a good way to start off the day; but, duty called and Zazu and I knew we had to pay our old high school another visit to see how their efforts for the drive were coming along. What better way to pay a visit than to get back into the complete groove of a high school attendee and wake up , unnaturally, via alarm and stumble out the door to arrive amongst mass amounts of other groggy high school students, all with “Monday mentality”. The weather certainly wasn’t playing nice and made it difficult to want to do anything other than lay in the sheets of our beds with un-academic novels to read.
After meeting Zazu in Freedom’s parking lot, we were now so accustomed to visiting Freedom frequently for the school supplies drive; we had the drill down packed. ID’s in hand, guest passes from the front desk, checked out a cart for easy transportation of our boxes, and an elevator key to transport us and all our goodies; we were ready to go.
The first couple visits to individual class rooms were a bit of a letdown, many teachers claiming that their students had “lost steam”. A concept that Zazu and I understood. We felt helpless after visiting the first two classrooms, teachers asking us questions we couldn’t answer. “How should I motivate them?” One teacher asked. Zazu and I assumed that the motivation for educating helpless children would come naturally and last more than a week or two. After seeing a trend in the outcome of this visit, initially, we both proposed the idea of bringing Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple to visit and speak with the kids in an auditorium setting to, hopefully, spark the motivation again.
While discussing this idea we continued to make our rounds about the campus, visiting each teacher that we had left with flat rate shipping boxes. The next trip we took was to Ms. Feldman, a teacher of a social science class and faculty advisor of the school’s Student Government Association; she will be dubbed the “outlier” of this particular trip.
Zazu and I had to stop our jaws from hitting the floor when entering Ms. Feldman’s room. Most teachers we had visited and introduced the project to initially had been ones that we had previously had as Freedom High School attendees. Ms. Feldman was not one of them and because of this lack of personal connection Zazu and I were pleasantly surprised to find her investment in helping us so greatly. A number of at least 14 boxes was counted, the supplies were overflowing the flat rate box size and she had remarked “we needed more boxes” to which we replied “we have more in our cars!” Feldman happily boasted that her 4th period class was the pioneers of all that resulted, and Zazu and I then felt even more strongly about SMSgt Temple needing to pay a visit to these kids. The clearing of Ms. Feldman’s room took several sweaty and frizzy haired trips back and forth to load and unload the treasures of supplies. We joked that we had to go back home and take additional showers, or at the least apply more deodorant for the day before showing up to classes. The two of us were not quite “on top of our game” as proved when I had accidentally ripped an entire flat rate box open after trying to fold it into its correct form for use. Zazu had also lost the elevator key we had to return to a teacher, completely dropped it in the parking lot and we had to retrace our steps as the threatening thunder sounded that it was about to rain.
Amongst the caring and kindness we came across today, as well as our other visits, from the teachers of Freedom High we found that today Ms. Feldman and her students were the heroes. When we first felt down on our luck they proved us wrong. It reminded us of our Mortenson reading when he gave a presentation to only 3 people and expected nothing to come of it, but was proved wrong by a single donation.
With time running short and our class starting in only a short period of time we knew we had to do one last thing. Try and book an appointment with a Freedom High School administrator for SMSgt Temple to come and give a presentation to the students. Freedom High deserves it, the charity deserves it, and it is something Zazu and I would be proud to see. Thankfully, we got a tentative date and now that our goal of 20 boxes is complete we feel that this would be the perfect thank you to Freedom High School; especially since we have received promises of even more supplies coming our way once the school year commences and supplies are being discarded right and left in the hallways.
Every visit to Freedom has been one that results in a great gut feeling about where Zazu and I spent our high school years, but this particular trip made us realize just what hard work we had given in the beginning and now we get to reap the rewards.
Note from Prof. Temple: My husband is happy to speak to Freedom HS; and if anyone wants to help Zazu and Zoe meet their shipping fund challenge (about $260 for 20 boxes; they currently have $100) through the Holland and Knight Charitable Foundation, please click here for more information. It takes just $12.95 to ship a box to Afghanistan to the U.S. troops who distribute these items – and that one box can literally help hundreds of Afghan children and it can also help our troops.