Crane Country Day School students have been giving back to the local community for decades, but Janey Cohen, Crane’s service learning coordinator, says they have really amped it up this year.

From kindergarten through eighth grade, every student at the school is involved in some level of service learning. Continuing a long-held tradition, kindergarteners make cards for seniors in the community, and this year sixth- and eighth-grade students will be spreading cheer by singing carols at various assisted-living residences.

Second-graders just returned from a field trip to Direct Relief International, where they assembled hundreds of dental kits.

Back at school, the fifth-grade classes have been leading this year’s campuswide food drive to benefit the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. About 50 upper school students and their teachers also will be involved in a project helping the Foodbank when they travel to an orange orchard this Friday to harvest fruit for the Backyard Bounty program.

At the same time, a group of seventh-graders will spend the morning at the Head Start Preschool in Carpinteria, where they’ll upgrade and create new equipment for the school’s playground. Students have spent weeks building several structures, including a new playhouse, a puppet theater, a discovery table and lots of toys, blocks and musical instruments.

Those not working in the play yard will assist the preschool teachers on Carpinteria field trips.

“The experience students gain by giving back to those less fortunate outweighs any material gift,” Cohen said. “Experiential learning is paramount at Crane, and these hands-on, service-learning projects not only exemplify the school’s philosophy, they embody the true holiday spirit.”

— Ann Pieramici represents Crane Country Day School.