What began as an educational lesson in The Guild School’s Bridge classroom grew into a collaborative class project to support individuals impacted by the Merrimack Valley gas explosions.

At the beginning of the school year, Bridge teacher Rajeswar “Raji” Ravichandran recognized that her students were having difficulty distinguishing between their needs and their wants. During their scheduled weekly conversation about how they planned to use the money they earned for working vocational services jobs at The Guild, she believed they focused too much on purchasing items such as gift cards or video games, or going out to restaurants.

She incorporated discussions about both the value of money and the concept of essentials like food, water and shelter versus non-essentials that they may desire. She wanted her students to develop an appreciation for what they had.

Raji also spoke to her students about the idea of setting aside a specific amount of money to help others. “If I save this much money, I could buy a beautiful car, but do I really need that car?” she asked her students. “That money could be used to help someone else.”

After considering a few options for helping others, Raji and her students decided to collect non-perishable goods from The Guild community. They brought the items to the senior center in Lawrence on Dec. 18, providing food and other essential goods to help people displaced from their homes by September’s tragic events.

“It made me feel good to help others who are not as fortunate,” student Evan Lublin said. “It’s nice to do something for other people, especially around the holidays.”

Fellow student Jesse Halwitz agreed: “It was fun giving other people what they need. I liked doing it.”

The Bridge classroom hopes to build on the success of the project by making it an annual event. Raji and her students are exploring ways to support the House of Hope in Lowell, which helps individuals and families in need of shelter and aid. House of Hope provides items such as paper products, laundry detergent, diapers, cleaning products, milk, eggs and bread.

For more information, please contact the Bridge classroom at (781) 893-6000.