Middle school students from Y.A.L.E. School Cherry Hill, a private school for students with special needs, shifted into high gear in recent weeks to complete a project that resulted in nearly 90 custom-made wooden racecars being donated to Toys for Tots.
Under the direction of Industrial and Applied Arts staff at Y.A.L.E. School Brian Reed and Ron Gordon, and using the design machinery at the Y.A.L.E. School Vocational Co-op, Y.A.L.E. students dedicated hours to building, sanding and readying the fleet of solid wood cars. Older students in Y.A.L.E.’s high school and 18-21 programs joined in the project as well, not only contributing their own racecars, but also using the Co-op’s laser printer to engrave each car. The project, called “One-for-One,” resulted in the students making one car for themselves and one to give away, with many students opting to donate both of their cars.
“When you make something yourself, you may not want to give it away. But another kid really needs it more, so that’s the right thing to do,” Norman, a Y.A.L.E. student, said of donating the cars. “And it made me happy!”
Desmond Newbill, Camden County Toys for Tots Coordinator with the Marine Corps Reserve, said the donation from Y.A.L.E. School was an especially heart-warming one.
The handmade cars took time for these kids to make,” Newbill said. “And now another child can add their own personal touch with a design or favorite color, making this a really special one-of-a kind gift.”
Teacher Brian Reed, the originator of the project, observed that all the students worked with great concentration, precision and care to create cars with remarkable quality that would please the children who received them. That work ethic is one that Reed nurtures in his students through purposeful projects like “One-for-One.”
“The secret is teaching not just through students’ eyes and ears, but though their hands,” he remarked. “This project taught our students not only woodworking skills and attention to detail, but how to give in the spirit of generosity.”
For more information about Y.A.L.E. School, visit www.yaleschoolnj.com.