A look behind Blair’s Kindness Corner

Dec. 24, 2022, 3:46 p.m. | By Josey Merolli | 11 months, 1 week ago

Ms. Nabavian’s Kindness Corner started small, but has made a big impact

Farzaneh Nabavian rifles through the cabinets in the corner of her crowded office and lists the various items she’s collected for Blair’s Kindness Corner, items that will eventually make it into the grateful hands of Blair students and their families. “Jackets, hats, gloves, food, books, pens, pencils, backpacks, snacks, shirts, sweatshirts, socks, coloring pencils, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, chapstick, glue, cleaning stuff. Whatever I can get my hands on. As much as we can get, we give back,” Nabavian says. 

A display of books distributed at the Kindness Corner’s Friday Freebies. Photo courtesy of Sadie Blain.

Nabavian works as the Parent Community Coordinator (PCC) at Blair. As PCC, she works with Blair families to help take advantage of the various resources that are available to those in need in the county, like food banks or the public library system. “[I help them learn] where to go, what to do, if they need to get resources, if they don’t know who to talk to… Basically I assist them to succeed,” Nabavian says. 

Nabavian started the Kindness Corner in November 2020 in an effort to connect all the good deeds taking place at Blair under one name. At the time, each department at Blair was doing their own fundraising and food drives to help the Blair community individually. Centralizing the process would make it easier to put funds and donations towards a good cause. “Instead of all these different people doing different things, we [wanted to] make it all under this umbrella of Kindness Corner. Nobody’s getting an award, nobody’s getting a plaque, nothing. It’ll be easier to have it under one location, so everybody knows where to send families or kids who need resources. That’s how Kindness Corner at Blair was born,” Nabavian says. 

The Kindness Corner began as just a few jackets in the corner of Nabavian’s office which she supplied herself. To expand its reach, she reached out to various departments to get them involved, and  it grew in size to become what it is today. 

Bins of clothing for students to choose from at the Friday Freebie. Photo courtesy of Sadie Blain.

Through connections and an active social media presence, Nabavian is able to acquire necessities to provide Blair students and families with. If anyone in the building notices a student or family seems to be struggling with getting the things they need, they are referred to Nabavian and the Kindness Corner. Students are referred by teachers, counselors, administrators, or come by themselves to receive help at the Kindness Corner.

When the separate departments provided students with these services, many felt embarrassed and hesitated to ask for help. Nabavian tries to eliminate this stigma by making the Kindness Corner a safe place for everyone. “That was another reason for Kindness Corner because, for example, SGA had this stuff or the ESOL department had this stuff, but some kids don’t want to go to their classmates or their teachers to get something. But then they come here, I close the door and it’s okay,” Nabavian says.

She obtains items for the Kindness Corner two ways: purchasing them herself with money from organizations like Blair’s PTA, or item donations from community members. “The big break I got was one of the departments, right before the pandemic, gave me some money that they had left over from the department and that gave me a boost to be able to buy a lot of coats and clothes. That was a really great thing,” Nabavian says.

Students browsing coat donations in the SAC. Photo courtesy of Sadie Blain.

Community members also contribute their generosity by dropping off checks or clothing. Right after the pandemic, Nabavian was connected to an organization who donated 6,000 sanitary pads, which she used to fill the Blair bathrooms. That donation still hasn’t been used up – those black baskets in the bathrooms are still refilled with pads from that same organization. Last year, she received a call from someone offering to donate 500 bras. 

If she receives clothing that isn’t brand new, she has a team of students sort through it to make sure it is suitable to distribute. “Anything that I wouldn’t wear or that I wouldn’t give you to wear, I wouldn’t give it to another student. It’s not just needs based, it needs to be something useful,” Nabavian says.

Junior Yandene Richardson is a student volunteer who helps Nabavian with managing the Kindness Corner. It started as a way to get SSL hours, but she’s discovered a real passion for helping other people. “It makes me feel happy because helping people is what I like to do. With the Friday [Freebies], it’s so cool to see everybody participate and for everyone to get things that they need,” Richardson says.

In September and early fall, the most popular items in the Kindness Corner were backpacks and school supplies to prepare for the school year. Now that it’s cold, priorities have shifted to winter clothes. However, students also often get things for others in their family, and Nabavian keeps this in mind when ordering supplies.. “I just ordered a bunch of hats and gloves, but you can never have enough. The reason is, it’s not just the student that gets it, sometimes it’s the whole family that gets it. So if we have enough to give away, we try to accommodate the whole family. With the holidays, it’s always nice to have everybody have nice clothes,” Nabavian says. 

On Dec. 16, the Kindness Corner hosted the third Friday Freebie, where donations were displayed in the Student Activity Center (SAC) for students to take their pick of. The events have been a great success, with lines stretching throughout the SAC to peruse the various items Nabavian has acquired. “I think it’s really nice that they are doing this, especially now it’s cold,” said Rachel, a student who attended.

Canned foods at the Kindness Corner. Photo courtesy of Sadie Blain.

The Kindness Corner has been such a success at Blair that Nabavian has expanded it to Takoma Park Middle School and is currently expanding to Takoma Park Elementary. Any clothing donations she receives that are too small to fit her high school students, she sends to the Kindness Corner at Takoma Park. At TPES, the Kindness Corner is just a small closet, as the student body is much smaller, just kindergarten through second grade.

Nabavian is proud of the work she has done with the Kindness Corner at Blair, and looks forward to seeing what it may become in the future. “It has become much bigger… It’s become something that everybody knows about,” she says. With its expansion to other schools, it should reach even more families in MCPS who desperately need it. 

If you are interested in helping out with Kindness Corners, reach out to Farzaneh Nabavian at 240-506-8576 or email farzaneh_nabavian@mcpsmd.org. To learn more about Kindness Corner and other services provided by Ms. Nabavian, check out her website: https://blairpcc.weebly.com/

Disclaimer: Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources.

Last updated: Dec. 24, 2022, 3:52 p.m.

Tags: SAC kindness corner

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