At Lawrence Woodmere Academy’s upper school, the Helping Hands Club, driven by students from ninth to 12th grade embodies the school motto of “Veritas, Integritas, Servitium (Truth, Honor, Service). Led by Director of Development Nadia Kalyan, the group is on a mission to make a difference in the LWA community and beyond.
Before Covid-19, the club was in existence but in the style of an ambassadorship, Kalyan said, serving as welcoming committee for new students or prospective families, but that has changed this school year.
“We as an administration have come together this year and have taken a look at how can we use the clubs as a way to focus on the things that we as a school feel are important from a value standpoint,” Kalyan said. “As well as speak to the things our students are interested in.”
“Helping Hands could reform as a very service-oriented organization within the school, but also still do the things it historically has helped to do,” she added.
Throughout the end of the 2024 academic year, events will be added to offer students the opportunity to serve their community and beyond it.
Kicking things off in September, students started the school year with the first-ever LWA Day of Service, having the LWA community of students, parents, faculty, board members and family bring love to the school building by cleaning, painting and organizing various parts of the school.
Although the school is home to many students in Nassau County, the history of the school has a student body coming from parts of Queens and with students coming as far away as China, South Korea and Israel.
When the terrorist group Hamas attacked Israel in October, members of the club became aware of what was happening in the Mideast and wanted to help in any way they could.
“LWA historically has had many students come from Israel,” Kalyan said. “So we know some students that are there that have graduated from LWA and gone through our doors, so our students felt very compelled to mobilize and try to help.”
That month, students across the school joined the “Dress Down Sponsorship,” which helped pitch in for the International Committee of the Red Cross, a humanitarian aid organization that helps people affected by conflict and armed violence.
From Oct. 23 to 27, students donated $10 per day or $45 for the week to not wear their school uniform. The school raised over $1,000, with all proceeds going to the Red Cross.
Now through November, the club is holding a shoe drive in partnership with Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that partners with nonprofits, schools, churches and others to help plan and implement shoe drive fundraising campaigns.
So far, the response has been overwhelming, Kalyan said, raising over 560 pairs of shoes ahead of the holiday season, with school parents who have businesses in the area doing their part to help by setting up boxes in their stores to collect shoes.
‘That is what Helping Hands was designed to do,” she said. “To connect us all with a greater community both locally and in the school, so it is a beautiful thing to see the response.”
Shoes are then collected by the organization and can affect families and individuals living in developing countries who are seeking to become more advanced economically and socially.
“It feels amazing,” said Christopher Walker, a senior at LWA. “Knowing that I am fortunate enough to bring people together and pitch in to a cause for people in need. I feel like I am impacting my community to change people’s lives.”
“Through Nadia’s work and support of some LWA senior volunteers, over 500 pairs of shoes were donated to the program,” said Hank Williams, the school’s headmaster. “LWA continues to honor the school’s motto of Veritas, Integritas and Servitium by demonstrating the highest levels of service in every activity presented.”
“I am grateful to be part of such an amazing community of LWA Tigers,” he added.
Walker said Kalyan has been a great role model for him and club members.
“Nadia has been a great guide for us,” he said. “Showing us how we can make these events very engaging, fun and staying on tract on bringing us together to find the best way to help our community.
“Look out for us, we are going to keep brainstorming a lot more events and branch out to help our community in every single way possible,” he added.