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Teaching Tolerance Trunks
recipients: Karen Klaich, South Central High School, NC
date: 2013

Karen Klaich’s foremost project for her Literature of the Holocaust class is the creation of Teaching Tolerance Trunks in observation of the annual Tolerance Week program. The project came out of a realization she had while she was writing grants to expand her classroom resources; her district had approved the class, but she had only one set of books for her students.  Several Bright ideas Grants provided funding for books and resources, but Ms. Klaich realized that rather than attempt to purchase existing materials pertaining to the Holocaust, she wanted her students to be able to leave a legacy of their learning. Using the trunks available from the Florida Holocaust Museum as an inspiration, she had her students create trunks for the schools in her district. With another Bright Ideas grant, they purchased four trunks to decorate, fill, and then donate to three elementary schools and one middle school. These were packed with resources including binders with book lists and teaching guides provided by the New Jersey Holocaust curriculum, and books on social justice, tolerance, and other relevant subjects.

Ms. Klaich and her students then delivered the trunks to school principals and media coordinators. As she says, “It was amazing! They were so appreciated of our efforts, and my students were thrilled to see the little kids’ excitement. . .  This project showed my high school students that they could do something for someone else, something to make a difference. I wanted them to see that with a little effort, people can always help one another.” So far, Ms. Klaich’s students have made and delivered fourteen trunks, reaching over 8,000 students and teachers. Their ultimate goal is to create one for each of the thirty-three schools in their district.


For more information about The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), please contact

TOLI is located at 58 East 79th Street in Manhattan. (get directions)