In the Face of Another Natural Disaster, Reconciling Joy and Comfort with Empathy and Action

By Brent Locke, Dean of Students

As our 75th school year begins, our hallways are once again filled with the laughter of children, the gifts of friendship, and the comfort in knowing we have a joyous place to learn and grow each and every day. Of course, these happy emotions can be hard to reconcile with the helplessness we may feel in our inability to act and in the guilt we may feel in our abundance as we watch so many in our country and around the world battle the destructive and unrelenting forces of Mother Nature. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the earthquake in Mexico have wrought untold devastation in the Caribbean, Mexico, Texas, Florida, and much of the south. The needs are many and urgent as families, businesses, and schools are trying to survive, regroup, and rebuild. It is in these times that Langley shines brightest as we come together to help those who most need our support.

 Dr. Jane Goodall at The Langley School

Dr. Jane Goodall, former Lower School Head Ghetta Hirsch, and former Head of School Doris Cottam speaking to students about the Roots & Shoots service program which Langley still uses for service learning today.

Langley’s history is steeped in the tradition of serving others and supporting those who are most in need. Founded on cooperative partnership principles, parents have been integral to the success and generosity of the school. In 1946, on the heels of the most catastrophic war the world has ever known, Langley parents banded together to collect canned meats, powdered milk, medicine, clothing, soap, and other supplies. The parents sent these items to an organization in Seine, France, that cared for orphans, and as Europe slowly rebuilt, continued to send donations for years to come.

Advertisement for a Langley play that raised funds for Masaai villages in Kenya to help purchase cows.

As the school has grown, so have our students who have become more engaged in service learning and community service. In the 1980s, Langley began collecting books to give to literacy programs across the Washington, DC, area, resulting in thousands of donated books and partnerships that have lasted decades. In the 1990s, Langley fifth-graders held pizza sales that generated over $5,000 in donations that they gave to several charities they supported throughout the decade, including the Juvenile Diabetic Association, Children’s Hospital, Cerebral Palsy Association, Boarder Baby Program, Special Olympics, Stop Child Abuse Now Program, and women’s shelters.

In the early 2000s, Langley supported several Masaai villages in Kenya, helping to buy cows and goats to improve food instability in the region. Throughout the years, students held bake sales and hamburger sales, milkshake and root beer float bars, and a fundraising dinner at Uno Pizzeria. The Drama Department also wrote a spring play around the charity called “Here Come the Cows,” with a portion of the proceeds going to the fund. During the play’s intermission, the cast served soup (which was part of the play) to the audience, and that money was also given to the charity. These incredible efforts have strengthened our roots, which are embedded in the tradition of giving, making our community so vibrant and caring over the last 75 years.

During this 2017-2018 75th anniversary school year, Langley is proud to launch a giving campaign that will contain three distinct giving events throughout the year. As we look to improve the lives of those around us, and nurture this tradition of giving in our children, we encourage you to get involved in any way you and your family are able.

Middle School advisory groups serve breakfast to the homeless at So Others Might Eat in 2015, a Langley tradition for more than 40 years.

Fall Hurricane Relief (Urgent):    

We have chosen and vetted four organizations that will provide critical and urgent services to those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as the earthquake in Mexico. While there are many deserving organizations, our list is simply an effort to provide a few choices as you look to offer support.

  1. Google Relief Fund (Hurricane Irma relief for everyone)

“Your donation will go directly to Network for Good and then will be evenly distributed to Catholic Relief Services, UNICEF, and the American Red Cross. These organizations are opening shelters, providing aid, and distributing supplies to people and communities impacted by Irma. Google will cover all processing fees so that 100% of your donation goes to where it is needed most.” -Google

  1. SPCA of Texas (Hurricane Harvey relief for animals)

“The SPCA of Texas is putting every available resource behind assisting pets and people who have evacuated the Gulf Coast to the North Texas area right here in North Texas and beyond. In the meantime, we continue to rescue, heal, and find homes for the pets right here in our backyard.” -SPCA

  1. Global Giving (Hurricane Irma relief that disperses money to local charities)

“This fund will provide relief to survivors in the form of emergency supplies like food, water, and medicine in addition to longer-term recovery assistance to help residents recover and rebuild. All donations to this fund will exclusively support any necessary relief and recovery efforts from this storm in the U.S. and Caribbean.” -Global Giving

  1. Save the Children (Earthquake relief in Mexico)

“Save the Children’s Mexico response team has quickly mobilized to ensure the children in shelters are protected and learning, with access to safe spaces to learn and play. The team is also delivering shelter kits and household supplies to help families rebuild their homes and their lives. Your generous gift is 100% tax deductible. Your support will help us protect vulnerable children and provide desperately needed relief to families.” -Save the Children

Winter 2017 Holiday Drives:

Each year, Langley runs three donation drives across the campus to help support organizations that we have partnered with for many years. The Black Student Fund (BSF), Latino Student Fund (LSF), and So Others Might Eat (S.O.M.E.) have been integral parts of the Washington, DC, community for generations, and the Langley community’s support has been vital to sustaining these organizations. Holiday donation items in the past have included: warm hats and mittens, new toys, and staple items like socks and toothbrushes for the homeless.

Spring 2018: New Initiative

We are thrilled to launch a new initiative this year. On Saturday, March 17, the school will be hosting the Langley Day of Giving. This is a culminating community service event to help celebrate a year of giving, tradition, and history. Our all-hands-on-deck activity will include the whole family, and will involve assembling food donations in the gym. This will be the finale of a week-long giving event during which students will plan different donation drives across campus to benefit organizations of their choosing. Current Langley families, mark your calendars for March 17!

As we joyously celebrate our 75th anniversary at Langley this year, we hope your family will join us in honoring Langley’s legacy of service.

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