Collecting coats for a cause at Maurice W. Downing Primary School

Students gather ‘Coats for Kids’ – and this year include adults, too


Every morning at Maurice W. Downing Primary School in Malverne, Student Council adviser Marguerite Robles asks the student body on the P.A. system, “Who cares?”

Students shout, “Downing cares!”

As part of the Downing Cares initiative, for which students participate in charitable activities in the village throughout the year, MWD began its annual Coats for Kids drive this month.

“Here at Downing, we’re trying to be big brothers and sisters to other people in the community,” Robles said. “We have an ‘each one, reach one’ mentality . . . We’d like to reach as many kids as we can.”

The Student Council holds meetings each week during the school year to discuss ways to help the community. For the clothing drive, the group collects scarves, mittens, hats and, of course, coats. Student Council members also created posters for classrooms, encouraging classmates to take part in the campaign.

“Their basic job is to create a partnership with their classmates to get them excited and motivated,” Robles said. “It’s a chance for them to promote school spirit while sharing ideas on how to make the Downing community a better place.”

“We all like to help the community,” said 7-year-old second-grader Jaxie Brienza, who said she enjoys the Student Council’s events. Her classmate Jaclyn Medera, 7, added that promoting the council’s clothing drive during MWD’s annual pep rally helped share its message.

This year, the Student Council agreed to expand its drive collection to adults. First-grader Nicholas Quagliata, 6, said his favorite part of the drive was how it benefits people of all ages in the village. “It makes me feel happy helping people stay warm,” he said. “It’s fun and exciting to help [others].”

Principal Ed Tallon said that recognizing the needs of a community is a lesson that will stay with students for years. “It’s an amazing feeling for the students at this age because they’re already getting [involved] in community service,” Tallon said.

Robles also encouraged parents to get involved as well. She regularly visits PTA meetings and shares memos with parents to keep them informed. “Not only do we seek to establish a partnership within the building,” she said, “we want our parents and families to be a part of this movement. So far, our families and community members have been very supportive.”

The Student Council keeps a donation box near the school’s main entrance, and has collected more than 50 coats so far. While the school doesn’t have a target number of items to collect, Robles said, she would like students to understand the importance of serving the community.

“It’s all about kindness, caring for others and making every donation count,” shee said. “Kindness goes a long way, and raising awareness in our community is something that our students are [capable] of achieving.”

The Student Council will complete its drive at the end of January, when the group will send its collection to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, a nonprofit organization that supports children and families.