The staff at Foxborough Regional Charter School is always thinking about ways to bring lessons to life, but their latest project is all about commemorating lives lost.
For the last nine years, students have been collecting stamps not to send letters to people, but to represent the people who died, both Jewish and non-Jewish, during the Holocaust. Their goal was 11 million stamps.
The idea was born in now retired teacher Charlotte Sheer’s fifth-grade classroom nine years ago. She found meaning in collecting used stamps that might otherwise be thrown out.
“The symbolism here is that the Nazis were throwing away human lives as if they had no value,” Sheer said.
Since they began collecting, plenty have found value in the project, donating stamps from all over the world. Over the years, they have received stamps from 47 states and 22 countries.
“When I open an envelope from a Rabbi in Moscow I said okay the world knows about our project,” Sheer said.
They went from having thousands to millions over the years and on Friday morning, the last stamp they needed to meet their goal came in. The significance of it happening right before Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday meant for reflecting, is something they say made it all the more special.
Some of the stamps are in boxes while others are being used for collages. Hidden somewhere in each collage is a dove.
“That’s what we’re trying to do with these collages,” student life coordinator and current project advisor Jamie Droste said. “We want to commemorate and work towards peace.”
At a time when they have lost count of how many times they have seen words like ‘neo-nazi’ in the headlines, it is a lesson they hope will make a difference in the lives of their students by making sure the lives lost are not forgotten.
“So that going forward we can do anything that an individual can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Sheer said.
Their next project is finding a permanent place to display the stamps, such as a museum. Anyone interested in helping finding a home for the Holocaust Stamp Project is urged to contact Foxborough Regional Charter School.