Schools Include Charity in Christmas Celebration
By Lisa Pett
Students in the Stevens Point Area School District enjoy a variety of activities during the holiday season- and it’s not always a party.
Besides classroom parties and gift exchanges, individual schools are focusing on charitable activities and students are learning about giving and community service. SPASH even accepted nonperishable food items in lieu of admission during its annual holiday orchestral and choir concerts.
Several schools are participating in the Holiday Basket Project. The project provides holiday meals and gifts for local families, with over 300 baskets provided by community sponsors like Ben Franklin students. The students also help collect funds and volunteer to go shopping and wrap gifts for the families in the program. This will be the 17th year Ben Franklin Jr. High has sponsored a family.
For some schools, the students are raising funds and collecting winter coats for their fellow students. Washington Elementary staff has a holiday giving tree by the office where families can pick an item off the tree to donate to help Washington families in need for Christmas. The winter coats, boots, hats and gloves that are donated will be distributed to Washington students who are without adequate winter clothing.
Washington staff also continues to collect healthy snack items for their “Backpacks of Hope” program; a year-round program providing backpacks filled with healthy snack food items which students who may otherwise go hungry at home can take with them. Washington students donate the easy-to-prepare snacks every week.
The Madison Elementary PTO sponsors a Santa’s Workshop each year, inviting students to Christmas shop for their immediate family members regardless of their ability to pay. Volunteers collected gently used toys, gathered donated new items and even purchased some things to stock the shelves. Each class got a chance to shop and volunteers wrapped gifts to send home for Christmas.
“We collected around 2,300 items,” said workshop coordinator Jamie Dahlstrom. “All students had an opportunity to shop for gifts for their family members, regardless of their ability to pay. We had a suggested donation of one dollar per item, but it wasn’t required.”
The district’s Threads of Kindness program is a parent-sponsored program that collects new and gently used clothing for less fortunate students. More information on volunteering or donating to Threads of Kindness can be found on the district’s website.
Each school in the district has a program which combines Christmas, charitable giving and the efforts of staff and students to provide for those in need.