The Calvert community came together this fall to gather more than 1,000 items in support of refugee families fleeing turmoil in Afghanistan. Led by Calvert’s Diversity and Outreach Club, the community donated these materials as part of Calvert’s fall drive, The New Beginnings Project, in partnership with The International Rescue Committee (IRC). Calvert students packaged the donated materials into more than 135 welcome kits for families joining the Baltimore community.
For three weeks, from November 15 through December 3, the Diversity Club encouraged students and families across both divisions to donate toiletries and kitchen supplies based on grade level. Under the guidance of Director of Global Outreach Sandry Sachar, the students asked for toothbrushes and toothpaste from the Fifth and Sixth Agers, shampoo and conditioner from the Seventh and Eighth Agers, and dish soap and sponges from the Ninth and Tenth Agers. In the Middle School, families were responsible for bar soap, deodorant, oven mitts, laundry materials, and hand sanitizer, among other items.
By the end of the drive, community response was overwhelming, yielding more than 300 toothbrushes, 411 tubes of toothpaste, 74 containers of dish soap, 96 sticks of deodorant, 89 bottles of hand sanitizer, 59 bottles of laundry detergent, and 79 can openers.Together, the community also gathered materials for 100 complete sets of shampoo (108 donated) and conditioner (113). At the end of the drive, the Diversity Club packaged the items into 135 toiletry kits.
In conjunction with The New Beginnings Project and learning about upheaval in Afghanistan, students in the Diversity Club also met with Baltimore Office of Equity and Civil Rights Chief of Staff Khadeja Farahmand, who left the country at just 22 years old.
On December 2, students had the opportunity to hear her story and ask questions about how she finally arrived in Baltimore. Throughout the discussion, Farahmand shared that she fled her small village in Afghanistan due to social and educational injustices. At just 16 years old, she began studying law in India, where she did not know either of the country’s official languages, English or Hindi. Student leaders said that the discussion inspired them to keep working to support refugee families struggling through tough times, and they look forward to continuing these efforts.
“This conversation educated us on the conditions that many have to go through and renewed our passion to help refugees throughout the world. The conversation inspired us to pursue our passions and never give up,” Jansen Craig ’22 said.
In December, Calvert Fifth Graders also raised an astounding $14,995 in support of The Water Project, helping to provide clean drinking water for communities in sub-Saharan Africa and bringing awareness to the global water crisis and its effects on poverty and continued disenfranchisement. Over the past four years, the Classes of 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025 have raised and contributed more than $55,000 toward community access to clean water in rural sub-Saharan Africa, where women and young girls often spend hours collecting and hauling dirty water for their homes. In addition to spreading illness and disease, this method of collecting water limits food production and prohibits young people from receiving an education.
However, resources gained through The Water Project and Calvert’s annual Fifth Grade Walk for Water have made a significant impact on improving these communities and breaking the cycle of poverty that restricts those who live there. In years past, Calvert’s contributions to The Water Project have assisted in the production of wells, protected springs, and rainwater catchments that have given 2,000 individuals reliable access to clean drinking water. In addition, six schools in Calvert’s partner communities have reported reduced absenteeism related to this access.
This year, the Fifth Graders traveled to nearby Johns Hopkins University on December 3 to participate in the annual Walk for Water, reviving the in-person tradition that was paused due to COVID-19 restrictions last year. Sponsored by family and friends who donated to the cause, the boys and girls circled Homewood Field before returning to campus.
A week later, they launched the next phase of their fundraising efforts, hosting an optional pay-to-dress-down day and a donut sale during their snack period. By the end of the sale, the Fifth Graders had raised $707 in support of clean water resources and The Water Project.
Continuing this delicious trend, the Diversity and Outreach Club also led a donut sale in early May, this time benefitting the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and supporting humanitarian aid for families affected by the turmoil in Ukraine. The fundraiser generated $680 for Ukrainian relief, and the Eighth Grade class contributed additional proceeds from this year’s dance, A Night Under the Stars, for a grand total of $1,320.
As part of the IRC fundraiser, students in the Diversity and Outreach Club also created a presentation outlining the recent turmoil in Ukraine and how Calvert students and families can help. The students identified failing infrastructure, freezing temperatures, widespread displacement, and lack of access to essential resources as the largest humanitarian challenges currently affecting Ukraine. They explained that the IRC is using donations to provide medical and psychological care, deliver clean food and water to refugees, and support evacuation efforts for women and children, encouraging Calvert families to join in and donate what they can.
Additionally, Calvert Eighth Graders returned to Sandy Point State Park and the shores of the Chesapeake Bay as part of the School’s sixth year participating in the Cool Schools Plunge, a fundraiser in support of Special Olympics Maryland. As part of the challenge, students were tasked with raising at least $50 each to benefit the non-profit organization, and our Mighty Bees went above and beyond, raising more than $11,000 total.