“Wall of Love” goes up Wednesday


Students at CMSD’s Campus International K-8 School are collecting warm clothing and other items that they will leave outside the school for people in need to claim.

At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, students will fasten plastic bags with basics such as hats, scarves, gloves and socks, along with tarps that the homeless can use to take shelter, to a fence behind the school.

Campus, located at 2160 Payne Ave. on the grounds of Cleveland State University, is erecting the “Wall of Love” in partnership with Holly Jackson, a Cleveland resident who began the practice after enduring her own hard times. Since November, she has put up about three dozen walls in the Cleveland area, including some that have been restocked.

Though previous projects have drawn volunteers, the Campus K-8 wall is her first partnership. Teacher Kate Grzelak contacted Jackson after seeing media coverage of her charitable endeavors. 

The project aligns perfectly with the school’s International Baccalaureate model and its focus on making a difference in the world. Work on the “Wall of Love” has filtered across grade levels and into instruction.

“A big part of International Baccalaureate is the action and service component,” said Sheila O’Rourke, Campus International’s IB coordinator. “All learning you do should involve some kind of action or service.”

Kindergarten teacher Renee Hubeny’s class incorporated the list of new or gently used items sought in the drive into lessons comparing needs and wants. On Friday, they expanded to math, grouping donated items into sets of 10.

“They’re very excited about it,” Hubeny said. “They’re learning what needs are. They want to help others.”

An eighth-grader named Daivieon had planned to organize a fund-raiser for the homeless as a service project. Instead of competing with other appeals, he offered to help coordinate the “Wall of Love.”

His duties included overseeing the making of signs soliciting the donations of clothing and other items. He also gave sales pitches to younger students, encouraging them to bring in “anything you have laying around” to add to the goods piled in bins.

“I wanted to impact homeless people’s lives; I’ve always been interested in helping the homeless,” he said. “Whenever I see the homeless, if I have even a little bit of change, I ask my Mom, ‘Can I give it to them? They need it more than I do.’ ”

Jackson started putting up the walls to help people who do not know where to turn for help, are too embarrassed to ask or just flatly refuse to do so. She has strict rules: Don’t leave donations at a wall; contact her. Items should be placed in plastic zipped bags to prevent damage. Don’t leave a mess. Take only what you need from the wall and pay it forward when able.

Local and national media attention has fueled interest in her efforts and unleashed appreciation that she finds humbling.

“I never expected it to take off the way it did. I started doing another and another and another,” she said. “I just want to make the world a better place.”

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