Fourth and fifth grade students at Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD knew that spring break was quickly approaching, and many of their classmates would stay in hotels over vacation. This year, they were determined that the small toiletry bottles often provided by hotels and ignored by guests would help students their own age in the DC metro region, who are negatively affected by addiction in their families.
The donations collected benefit Camp Mariposa, a program of The National Center for Children and Families (NCCF). A free, weekend overnight camp for children ages 9- 12, Camp Mariposa specifically serves youth who experience substance abuse in their families. Cloverly Elementary School learned about Camp Mariposa through Dr. Kindra Ingram, a friend of NCCF.
Members of Cloverly’s Student Government Association (SGA) created and handed out flyers advertising a toiletry drive, from April 18 – May 2. Students throughout Cloverly were excited to participate in the drive; fourth grader Yitzchak particularly enjoyed picking out the items for the drive at the store and forming an assembly line with his family to create goodie bags of toiletries.
On Monday, May 22, Tymel Cason, Clinical Supervisor with NCCF and Clinical Director at Camp Mariposa, met with four of Cloverly’s SGA officers to accept toiletry items donated during the drive, and to speak with them about the camp. The SGA officers, Ava, Ella, Lindsay and Sophia, were eager to learn more about the camp, and excited to hear how their efforts would benefit the campers.
According to Cason, “It was heartwarming to know that young students were not only interested in helping our youth at Camp Mariposa but also took action into their own hands to provide so many needed toiletries. ”
Cason explained that many of the campers come to camp with very few items. Sometimes campers do not bring them because they do not have regular access to such items, they forget to bring them or sometimes it is because they are not taught adequate life skills about packing an overnight bag.
Dr. Melissa Brunson, Cloverly Principal, is proud of her students’ willingness to give back to the community, and she is confident that, as so often happens when giving, the experience will benefit the students, too. “It was a learning opportunity and hearing about Camp Mariposa brings a level of diversity in terms of what they experience with their own friends when they go to middle school and above.”
Thanks to the drive, participants at Camp Mariposa have one less worry and can focus on growing and healing over the weekend.