2013-10-11 / Community

Enriching lives, one project at a time

By Ann Fisher
Contributing Writer


Students at Ocean House at the Farm design and decorate cans they used for a coin drive this summer to benefit Barbara Bush Children's Hospital, part of the Maine Medical Center in Portland. Beginning on the far side of the table (near the shelving) are Brady Hanisko, Alex vanHuystee, Nathan Hanisko, Ryan O'Hare and Drew Folley. (Courtesy photo) Students at Ocean House at the Farm design and decorate cans they used for a coin drive this summer to benefit Barbara Bush Children's Hospital, part of the Maine Medical Center in Portland. Beginning on the far side of the table (near the shelving) are Brady Hanisko, Alex vanHuystee, Nathan Hanisko, Ryan O'Hare and Drew Folley. (Courtesy photo) CAPE ELIZABETH – The lives of students who attended summer camp at Ocean House at the Farm in Cape Elizabeth were enriched in more ways than one when they completed a community service project to benefit the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital this summer.

The summer camp is a program within Ocean House at the Farm, a private school that serves infants through students in seventh grade. The school, which is located at the former Maxwell Farm, was founded in 1996 by Laurie Grant and Peggy Littlefield.

“We believe that we educate the child … but we also make it comfortable, a home-like setting,” Grant said.


Scrub a-dub dubbing for the camera during a car wash held to raise money for Barbara Bush Children's Hospital are, from back to front, Finnegan Ketchum, Finnley Bridge and Joe Jacobson. (Courtesy photo) Scrub a-dub dubbing for the camera during a car wash held to raise money for Barbara Bush Children's Hospital are, from back to front, Finnegan Ketchum, Finnley Bridge and Joe Jacobson. (Courtesy photo) Enrichment programs are part of the curriculum both during the school year and at the summer camp. While other teachers chose to introduce dance, art or a foreign language, preschool teacher Nick Wilson opted to “change it up” by offering community service to his campers.

“It was different; something these guys weren’t aware of,” said Wilson, who is also the school’s assistant director. “I said, ‘Let’s change it up,’ and they went for it.”

The next step was choosing the nonprofit organization that would benefit. Wilson said the students conducted a Google search to get some ideas. When the hospital came up, the children began to talk about people they knew who had been treated there.

“A lot of them had ties,” said Wilson, including Sally McCoy of Cape Elizabeth, whose twin brothers were born prematurely at Barbara Bush Children’s.

“I’m really glad that was the choice we made,” said McCoy, who is 8 years old and in the third grade.

She said other ideas the campers tossed around included baking goodies and bringing them to a local soup kitchen and doing something to help the Red Cross.

When asked if she was happy when the hospital was chosen to benefit from the children’s project McCoy replied, “Yes, definitely, because my brothers had been there, and I’ve been there.”

The 14 students, who were enrolled in first to sixth grade, then had to decide how they were going to raise money. Another online search pulled up an organization in Ohio that raised $1,000 in one weekend through donation jars placed in stores.

The students left a jar at CVS and other retailers and also went door-to-door collecting donations.

A car wash was also held to raise funds, with each fundraiser garnering about half of the $450 in total that was collected and donated to the children’s hospital. Wilson admits he was surprised at the amount donated in the jars.

“They had a goal of $1,000; in my own mind I thought they’d be lucky if they got $100” from the donation jars. “They put in the work; it just took. I was very surprised.”

After the coins were added up and rolled, students presented a check to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital Aug. 30. All the students except one were present, along with Wilson and teacher Brody Pagel.

After a tour of the facility, “they gave us the run down on what they do,” said Wilson.

“I liked looking at the hospital and feeling good because we were giving it to them,” McCoy said.

Hospital officials told the children their donation would likely go toward art supplies, toys and games for the young patients.

“It will go directly to the children,” Wilson said.

That was McCoy’s favorite part.

“The best part was giving them the money,” she said, adding, “The lady giving us the tour … she said the kids in the hospital were doing well and could still learn. If I was there I would like to go to school.”

Wilson said he will likely choose another community service project for his summer enrichment program next year.

“I plan on doing something next year. The kids talked about Make-A-Wish (to benefit chronically ill children) after seeing it at a Sea Dogs game.”

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