As the holidays approach, PEople across our studios celebrate traditions of charitable giving in the communities where they’re rooted. These traditions reflect the passions of those working in a given studio—from food and book drives to personalized gifts for children and families in need. Unusual times or not, we strive to find ways to give meaning to the season.
The late Principal Christine Schlendorf, a leader in Perkins Eastman’s K-12 Education practice, left an indelible legacy of supporting inner-city schools and children in disadvantaged areas of New York. This December—the first holiday season since her death in May—the studio is continuing a tradition she started called “Perkins Eastman Elves—Holiday Book Drive for Kids.” The studio buys and donates books to kindergarteners at the DREAM Charter Schools (both the East Harlem and Mott Haven campuses) and first and second graders at Harlem Academy. The goal is to donate 150 new books—one for each child—from the schools’ wish lists with titles ranging from Lupita Nyong’o and Vashti Harrison’s Sulwe, to Yuyi Morales’ Dreamers, to Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The studio is kicking the drive off with a wrapping party mid-December.
In addition to the book drive, our New York PEople once again competed in CANstruction, a nationwide food-can sculpture contest, sponsored in part by the AIA, that supports food kitchens across the country, including New York’s City Harvest. Our New York team dedicated this year’s food sculpture to Christine’s favorite animal, penguins. “Much like the strong family bonds shared between penguins, Christine brought together our office’s CANstruction team year after year with her CAN-do attitude and unfailing optimism,” according to a description of the project. “These penguins, separated by a river of melting glacial ice, bring attention to the urgency of the climate crisis, environmental conservancy efforts, and the importance of community action.” Like an exhibited work of art, the sculpture’s listed mediums are colorful cans of chicken stock and tuna, while plastic water bottles represent the melting ice. The team used 1,585 cans of tuna, which will feed 601 New Yorkers, according to City Harvest. In parallel, the studio is raising $3,000 to feed even more families in need as the city continues to address the effects of COVID-19, high unemployment rates, and increased food insecurity.