After-school programs puts emphasis on Volunteerism

John Mark, 6, shows off the Valentine card he made for a veteran. This is just one of roughly 13 service projects the OST students at P.S. 72 will participate in to help their community. Photo by Amanda Marinaccio

To make the Bronx a better borough and help those in need, the students of P.S. 72’s after-school program have taken on more than a dozen community service projects.

Throughout January and February, the 234 students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, who participated in P.S. 72’s Directions for Our Youth Out of School Time after-school program, have and will continue to volunteer.

The students, divided into groups of 17 to 21, brainstormed and discussed the issues that they felt were most important. They settled on 13 projects sure to make a difference.

The students completed three projects in January.They collected five bags of coats in a coat drive, two bags of toys in a toy drive and three large bags of clothes in a clothes drive.

A sock drive has continued into February; the socks will be distributed to P.S. 72 and M.S. 219 students who need a little warmth to get through the winter.

A creative bunch of students will design “get well” cards for the ill or Valentine’s Day cards for Senator Jeff Klein’s Valentines for Veterans event.

On Friday, February 5, a group of students delivered handmade bookmarks to a local public library: giveaways for lucky book-borrowers.

Another group has plans to visit the Engine 72 firehouse to deliver an appreciation basket and thank New York City’s Bravest.

Two groups will help our soldiers via a “cell phone for soldiers” drive,; they’ll collect used cell phones for soldiers. The students will also hold a bake sale to raise money. They’ll “adopt” a soldier by way of a care package.

“We are doing this to give a basket with all sorts of food for the soldier because they don’t have that much food,” Osvaldo Garcia, 8, explained.“The soldiers do a lot for us and without them we would be in big trouble.”

P.S. 72’s animal lovers will write to Governor David Paterson in support of wildlife preservation or will help collect blankets and towels for the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

More students will job-shadow P.S. 72 custodians. They’ll help out with tasks and serve the staff treats during “coffee breaks.”

“We are learning to clean the lunchroom and the school so we can save the earth from getting dirty,” Janelle Bigio, 6, said.

The students are so excited Out of School Time director Joanna Tejeda hopes to repeat the projects next year.

“We allowed the children to come up with ideas and gave them ownership,” Tejeda said. “This was something that they thought about and made a reality .”

The Out of School Time after-school program includes children from P.S. 72 and children who live in the neighborhood but attend other schools.The program runs from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on regular school days and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on off-days. Students enrolled in the program get homework help and receive extracurricular activities.

Reach reporter Amanda Marinaccio at 718 742-3394 or

More from Around NYC