At the Heart of SRDS

At the Heart of SRDS
Beth Meleski

We all know that to be a student at Saddle River Day School, one must have the intellectual curiosity and capacity to succeed. But ask an SRDS student what they do beyond their studies and it will quickly become evident that they have hearts to help those who are less fortunate. When called to make a difference in the world to -- as our mission statement says -- “become a caring and ethical contributor to society,” our students, faculty and families step up.

One such example is Senior Drew Savas. As the co-founder, with SRDS alum, Eli Weinger ‘22, Drew started a chapter of the non-profit Doorstep Donations program in 2021. This program employs an “innovative Postmates-like service model” to provide assistance to food-insecure families at the Mahwah Food Bank. As one regular contributor put it, “It’s so easy. I just buy a few more groceries and leave them outside. I like to know I’m directly impacting people in my community.” Drew Savas agrees saying it’s “a great way to help local communities while also acting as a reminder to be grateful for what we have in life.” 

Helping members of the SRDS community is what led middle school students in the Rebels for a Cause Club to conceive of and execute a successful fundraiser that raised more than $600 for the Real Kids Wear Pink Breast Cancer Foundation. Rebels for a Cause was founded as a way for students to look beyond the walls of school and home and into the outside community. Students in the club involved Lower School students in their efforts, resulting in a Pink Pop Up Boutique stocked with handmade bracelets, baked goods and other pink swag available for purchase. The students loved the cross-division partnership and Rebels for a Cause has transitioned from a club to an N block class. We can’t wait to see what these creative students come up with next!

The Lower School also welcomed The Seeing Eye back to campus with a visit from a certified Seeing Eye dog and two puppies-in-training. The Seeing Eye’s mission is to train Seeing Eye® dogs who help “enhance the independence, dignity and self-confidence of people who are blind.” Lower School students are currently collecting Pocket Change for Puppies in their classrooms to donate to this program. We are proud to say that several of our SRDS families set a wonderful example for our kids by training dogs to be of service. 

Another wonderful example has been set by the Polepalle family, who have been involved with the creation and maintenance of the HELP Foundation since the mid-1990s. The HELP (Health and Education for Less Privileged) foundation provides funds to change the cycle of poverty that affects orphan children and children living in poverty in India. Current students Sahil Polepalle and Devraj Dhupar, both members of the class of 2025, participate in this mission by offering tutoring services with all proceeds going to the foundation.

Living in our complicated, messy, unpredictable world isn’t always easy. Fortunately, the students, faculty, staff and families of Saddle River Day School have found ways to, as author and advocate for the ‘voiceless’ Clarissa Pinkola Estes said, “mend the part of the world that is within your reach.”