When someone is in need of spare change or a warm hug, 5-year-old Sydney Wiley of Indianapolis, Ind., asks her mother Courtney Wiley how she can help. While most children Sydney’s age are mastering tying their shoes, the compassionate kindergartner has begun her mastery of empathy.

When Sydney was 4, she began saving money in a small bank called a tzedakah. A tzedakah box is a Jewish tradition in which to save and donate to a charitable cause. Courtney, sorority sister of Hillary Gramm, resource development director of Communities In Schools-Bay Area (CIS-Bay Area), had seen the effects Hurricane Harvey had on families in Bay Area Houston. Because Sydney was eager to crack open her savings and help someone, her mother suggested sending the donation to CIS-Bay Area, an organization that helps students undergoing crisis such as natural disasters and homelessness.

A week later and from more than a 1,000 miles away, a check for $16.35 arrived at the CIS-Bay Area office to help a child impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Peter Wuenschel, executive director of CIS-Bay Area, decided the donation should go to a child the same age as Sydney to replace a special item lost in the flooding.

Kaitlyn Thompson, CIS-Bay Area campus coordinator for League City Elementary, had a student displaced and living in a hotel. The girl had been very down about losing her blonde-haired baby doll that wore a blue dress. Six-year-old “Amy” was elated when she was gifted with a new baby doll that resembles the one she lost.

Communities In Schools-Bay Area serves 15 campuses in the Clear Creek and Dickinson independent school districts, doing whatever it takes to keep kids in school. For more information on the dropout prevention program, visit www.cisba.org.

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