Eighth-graders at the Waldorf School in Santa Fe, New Mexico had spent the entire year raising $2,800 for their rafting trip, a thrilling end to their time in middle school. But then came Covid-19.
Rather than mope after the trip’s cancellation, the students chose to make a major impact on the lives of others by using the money to help the Navajo Nation, which is struggling amid the pandemic.
In May, the Navajo Nation surpassed New York and New Jersey for the highest per-capita coronavirus infection rate in the US — another sign of Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on minority communities.
The students used their $2,800 fund to purchase supplies, which were then delivered to members of Navajo Nation.
“I am very proud of my students, but I’m not surprised,” said Daisy Barnard, their eighth-grade teacher. “This is a very generous and compassionate group of teens. They have been raised to think outside their own immediate lives and it shows in moments like this.”
The idea came from Jess Falkenhagen, one of the parents in Barnard’s class.
Falkenhagen, who is a cultural anthropologist, said she was concerned about the impact of coronavirus on Navajo Nation.
“A third of the nation does not have access to running water,” Falkenhagen told CNN. “The multi-generational homes where contagion spreads due to inability to social distance and the underlying health issues of so many folks make them particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.”
The mother of four contacted Navajo leaders to ask what they needed. Essential items for babies and non-perishable food made the list. So did diapers, formula, toilet paper, wipes and medicines.
Out of an abundance of caution during the pandemic, only Falkenhagen and her two daughters, Daisy Russell and Indie Russell, ventured into the stores to purchase supplies.
The three shoppers gathered over 50 cans of soup, 75 pounds of potatoes, boxes of pasta, dried beans, rice, pet food and a dozen reusable five gallon jugs filled with water.