Two sisters in Bethesda are sharing their passion for LEGO building blocks with Identity youth and enlisting other students across Montgomery County to help. Thanks to their efforts, Identity distributed 100 LEGO kits to elementary school students in October.
“These sorts of gifts can make a huge difference to the kids in our programs,” says Nora Morales, Director of Identity’s Out-of-School Time Programs. “Many Identity kids don’t have access to the sorts of toys and games as other children. The LEGO kits are giving these children an essential outlet to express their creativity, develop problem-solving skills and bond with their peers by playing together.”
The LEGOs were donated by Gaby and Alyssa Hodor, students at Walt Whitman High School, who connected to Identity with the help of the Jewish Community Relations Council. Last year, Gaby and Alyssa co-founded the LEGO Replay club, where Whitman students assemble LEGO kits for distribution to nonprofit organizations across Montgomery County.
“Alyssa and I both love LEGOs—we played with them until 9th grade,” says Gaby. “We wanted to give underserved kids the opportunity to enjoy playing with LEGOs just like we did.”
Gaby and Alyssa are working with local elementary and middle schools to give younger kids an opportunity to donate their LEGOs and assemble the kits. In April, the club partnered with Bannockburn Elementary School to host a school-wide LEGO drive followed by an Earth Day event at which Bannockburn students assembled over 250 kits to be donated to local child-serving organizations, including Identity and the Montgomery County Child Welfare Services Program.
Students can earn Student Service Learning (SSL) hours by participating in the club, making it a great way to work toward an important graduation requirement while also making a real difference. Earlier this year, Whitman high schoolers even made two service trips to Costa Rica where they donated over 50 gallons of LEGOs to local youth.
“This is really about kids helping kids,” say Gaby and Alyssa. “We hope that the LEGO kits empower youth by encouraging them to explore their creativity.”