ORLANDO, Fla. – There is a culture of giving being developed at Liberty Middle School in Orlando.
That civic responsibility was on display this past holiday season when the students and staff collected food, clothing and toys for their fellow classmates in need.
When 7th grade counselor, Kiri Pateracki, saw the results of the holiday food drive, she nominated the school for the News 6 Getting Results Award.
“I was walking through the media center one day and saw all our students and many staff members packing up gifts, gift cards and just getting everything ready for the holiday drive that we were doing for our families here at liberty,” Pateracki said. “It so heartened me that I thought, you know, people need to know what’s going on at Liberty. This is great news.”
Turns out the holiday drive is just one of many projects at the school coordinated by the Latinos In Action class, which focuses on community service.
They’ve been responsible for tutoring at nearby Three Points Elementary School, they provided hurricane relief for the Bahamas and Puerto Rico and they donated to local hospitals for children receiving cancer treatment.
News 6 sat in on the class as students reviewed their projects and fundraisers. Most were excited to talk about how they felt after helping others.
Teacher Alexandra Moa-Ramos said the class adds balance to the student’s curriculum.
“Everything cannot be just test scores,” Moa-Ramos said. “There has to be good in the world. There has to be hope and we have to make sure that we have a class that instills good self-esteem for the whole child and that happens through community service.”
Raquel Vasquez, the school’s Student and Family Empowerment coordinator remembers the holiday drive. She said it started small with the goal of just helping three families.
“With the abundance of love that our staff showed we were able to add more and to add more,” Vasquez said. “I can’t tell you how many emails I sent of ‘we get one more, we did one more,’” Vasquez smiled.
They eventually helped 20 families.
Principal Lovley Tinsley said she’s proud that everyone looks out for each other.
“When I came here nine years ago, I was told Liberty is a family and every year I hear different staff saying the same thing,” Tinsley said. “Liberty is family, we take care of each other.”