MOTT HAVEN, the Bronx — It’s about that time of year when, despite the cold, New Yorkers start to feel all warm inside — Valentine’s Day is in just a couple of weeks away and students at Haven Academy in the Bronx are doing what they can for a part of the country that could use a little love.
They say they’re going to send Valentine’s Day cards to their parents, and one little girl will mail a card much further.
Sofia, 4, says her grandmother is in Puerto Rico, and that “she is trying to save the island.”
The Mott Haven charter school, sponsored by The Foundling charity, has been making Valentine’s themed care packages for families in Puerto Rico still recovering months after Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma.
“The kids have gotten very very excited about sending messages and sending things to kids their own age that they know are needed very much,” Foundling CEO Bill Baccaglini said.
Packages are full of canned food, batteries, clothing and, of course, candy for the holiday. It’s perhaps what these children are most excited about. Their favorites include Gummy Bear Ninja Turtles, lollipops and all things chocolate.
But these care package still need one more thing. So students in this Pre-K art class are making Valentine’s for them. They want the people of Puerto Rico still dealing with the devastation of the storms to know that they are in their hearts.
On go the smocks, and the brushes are ready as pink, purple and red paint begin filling in paper hearts one by one.
Much of Puerto Rico remains without power, including their schools. One school celebrated after getting power back just last week.
And back in the Bronx, teachers show their students the importance of helping other kids far from their own neighborhood.
“We have to empathize, we have to understand, we have to create to make them [people in Puerto Rico] feel good,” art teacher Toni Palmer said.
These cards won’t turn the lights back on, but even the littlest of hands can do a lot to make the holiday brighter for families on the island.