Customs of Ingathering Adjusted for Philippines Relief


Without a doubt, Ingathering is one of the most time-honored traditions that Greenwich Academy has to call its own. Harper Robinson, XII, President of Community Service, describes Ingathering as “a wonderful time for the whole school to come together and use their resources to help people who need it the most.”

Part assembly and part ceremony, Ingathering is the event where every grade processes into Ramsing Gym sequentially and presents their assigned gift (a component of the traditional Thanksgiving meal) to the seniors in a way that emphasizes the spirit of giving as well as the importance of gratitude.

This year the seniors were asked to contribute money to a charity geared towards providing relief for the people in the Philippines instead of their usual assignment to field blankets for the Midnight Run. For those who might not know, the Midnight Run is a group that organizes different locations around NYC where volunteers meet groups of homeless people and provide blankets, food, toiletries and winter clothing throughout the year. GA typically works with the Midnight Run every year in February.

“Because Midnight Run was cancelled last year due to a snowstorm in February, we have in the basement all the blankets from last year. We were going to double up on blankets and then Mrs. King suggested the girls give to the Philippines instead,” said Ms. Kelly Teagarden, head of GA Community Service.

“The reason we chose to do the senior thing is we got tons of questions and emails saying ‘What are you going to do for the Philippines?!’ By the time the typhoon came through, roads were destroyed, then it wasn’t clear how resources were getting distributed. We were in a unique spot because the Midnight Run got cancelled last year and because a natural disaster happened right before Ingathering. We decided after researching that we were going to do it, and we were going to do it through OxFam,” Teagarden said.

She emphasized that these were special circumstances and will likely not occur next year.

What prevents all of Ingathering from unraveling into just another fundraiser? It is actually inscribed on the GA community service mission statement that there must be, at some point, non-fundraising opportunities for students to partake in: you can’t just fundraise. It is important to the school that students understand that helping out does not just mean providing funds.

“The Random Acts of Kindness Club went to Neighbor-to-Neighbor last week. Kids go to tutoring once a week. Yes, GA has fundraising, but also has more active programs where people are doing programs instead of just bringing in money,” Teagarden said.

“We had a great response from the seniors this year, and doing it through Ingathering encouraged even wider participation,” Robinson said. “It was great to have a global aspect of Ingathering this year … And the seniors were still able to make a local impact by delivering the baskets to families in Greenwich,” she adds.

The true tradition of Ingathering, that of generosity and consciousness of our role in the both our global and local communities, remained intact.