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Giving Thanks by Giving Back

After spending a stimulating semester at King’s Academy learning Arabic, Deanna Lonsdale ’22 was moved to give back.

When Deanna Lonsdale ’22 joined King’s Academy for a semester abroad in August 2019, not only did she learn about a new country and language, but she found herself welcomed by a community of students and teachers, who — while all very different from her — made her feel right at home. Upon returning home to New York, where she attends The Chapin School, she reflected on her experiences at King’s and everything she had learned in those four months, and knew she wanted to give back in some way. She soon found an opportunity to do so, thanks to a philanthropic family tradition.

At the end of every year, in lieu of a holiday present, Lonsdale and her cousins are given the opportunity by their grandmother Harriet Warm to designate a US $100 donation to the charitable organization of their choice. Last winter, fresh from her semester in Jordan, Deanna Lonsdale chose King’s Academy as the recipient of her gift.

“I had just come back from Jordan, and I like to donate to things that are important to me,” says Lonsdale. “And King’s is really important to me. It was just something I felt connected to.”

As part of the process of gifting, Lonsdale and her cousins have to justify their choice to their grandmother with a written proposal (see sidebar). “My grandmother was very supportive of my decision because she knows what a good school it is and how much I enjoyed it.”

“It’s really the people, the community, that I found at King’s,” says Lonsdale. “I never had that kind of close-knit community before, especially with people so different from me. I really got along with everyone and formed a lot of meaningful relationships.”

Giving Thanks by Giving Back

Supporting education is also something Lonsdale strongly believes in. Growing up, her parents always stressed upon the importance of education. “You start school at around five years old and it’s the basis for everything in your life. I just felt it was important to give back to an institution like King’s that really advocates for education.”

Boarding for the first time during her stay at King’s, Lonsdale also appreciated being in an environment that allowed her to build deeper relationships with her teachers, and to learn about the Arab world from her friends.

Her experience at King’s is just one of the reasons that Lonsdale believes that giving back to your own school is tremendously important. “It’s important to support your school because it gave you so much information, so much guidance, so many things that you will  use for the rest of your life. It’s a way to show your connection to your school and to say thank you.”

Another important reason to support your school, she says, is that it helps to further the education of someone else. It helps the institution grow and improve and invest in the next generation of students.

“Giving back to other people and service work is something really important at King’s, especially since half the students are on financial aid,” says Lonsdale, who took part in various service activities such as litter clean-ups and playing with refugee children through the Reclaim Childhood initiative. “I saw a lot of giving back. Sometimes just small gifts or gestures that no one else knew about but it was important to those people.”

Giving Thanks by Giving Back

When it comes to students giving back, Lonsdale believes that it doesn’t matter how young or old you are, or how big or small the gift is, or whether it’s a gift of money or you volunteer your time. It all counts. “Even if you feel that your gift is tiny, if other people give too, then together we achieve something big.”

Deanna’s Gift Proposal to Her Grandmother:

“I had an amazing experience at King’s Academy and I want to support its mission in any way I can. Especially since roughly half of the students receive financial aid, I feel strongly about giving to King’s. The community there is very welcoming, the faculty are determined to educate everyone on many different levels and topics, and they offer an endless amount of both academic and non-academic opportunities. The persistent message of stimulating learning and growth is definitely something I agree with and benefited from while at the school, so I want to show my gratitude by donating to the institution because it upholds my values and gives back to others as well.”