Students, teachers and staff members from New Canaan Country School joined together to support -- and learn from -- AmeriCares' response to Typhoon Haiyan.

The school has formed a service learning partnership with AmeriCares and hopes to stay connected throughout the year.

On Nov. 21, Lindsay O'Brien, AmeriCares' post-emergency response project manager, shared with Middle and Upper School students examples of how AmeriCares responds to natural disasters internationally, such as Typhoon Haiyan, as well as to local disasters, including last year's Superstorm Sandy.

"It's hard to imagine that while we go about our daily lives, somewhere else on the globe, others are hurting and suffering in unimaginable ways," Lynn Sullivan, New Canaan Country School's director of community development and inclusion, said. "Naturally, as members of the Country School community, we feel compelled to respond with immediacy to do what we can to support members of the global community of which we are a part."

Students conducted a "dress down day" following the presentation, raising more than $1,000 through suggested $5 donations. But the school's partnership with AmeriCares extends beyond simply fundraising. Students will continue to learn about the long-term challenges in Tacloban, Philippines, as well as the best practices AmeriCares employs to work with those directly affected by natural disasters.

"In fulfilling our mission to inspire students to be lifelong learners with the courage and confidence to make a positive contribution to the world, it's so important that they learn as much as they contribute," said Sullivan. "Lindsay's presentation was so powerful because it allowed students to make a personal connection, having experienced Superstorm Sandy first-hand."

Working with faculty, students and the Parents' Association Community Service team, the school is considering a number of future service learning and fundraising opportunities. The Upper School Kiva Club, a micro-financing nonprofit, selected the Philippines as its area of focus long before Typhoon, Haiyan. The club has offered to seed new fundraising efforts in support of the school's ongoing response.

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