Published in the 12/20/10 issue of the Suburban Journals
A second-grader’s mission to warm Madison
‘I kept seeing a lot of kids without coats,’ says girl
When Z’Sanique Sanders, 7, told her principal she had an idea to warm up her classmates this winter, she meant business.
The second-grader at Harris Accelerated Elementary School in Madison was serious about opening up her heart to the community, Principal Terrien Fennoy said.
“She came to me in September and said ‘I have an idea’ and then she kept stopping by my office each week to remind me. She was persistent and genuinely concerned as the weather got colder,” Fennoy said.
Sanders’ idea evolved from a wish to help her classmates into a community-wide winter coat drive called “From Our Hearts to Yours.”
“I kept seeing a lot of kids without coats,” Sanders said. “I wanted us to open up our hearts to them, so the name was perfect.”
Harris Elementary staff and local residents joined Sanders’ efforts, donating more than 150 coats and 250 hats, scarves, socks and gloves to date.
“I want everyone to have things they need. If they have these things, they won’t get sick when it’s cold,” Sanders said.
Her efforts also warmed the hearts of staff.
“In the history of my 20 years in education, I have never seen anything of this magnitude,” Fennoy said. “Z’Sanique is a very serious student and she is concerned about her classmates and mankind.”
The coat drive has already equipped Sanders’ classmates with coats, as well as the local Head Start program and students at Bernard Long Accelerated Elementary School in Madison.
Fennoy said a mother of nine was able to find coats for each one of her children.
New donations arrive each day.
“It feels good to know that people care enough to let others know what we’re doing,” Sanders said. “I’m really excited that they went out of their way to help.”
Fennoy said the outreach has helped underscore the kind of values taught at the school.
“Z’Sanique has taught her classmates genuine kindness — to think of others before yourself,” Fennoy said, adding later, “This girl has a heart of gold. She was adamant about making sure this happened.”
– Shannon Philpott