The holiday season brings out the best in many adults, but in Orange, it brings out the best in children, too, many as young as preschoolers and kindergarteners. “The MLT community has participated in several community service projects this year. During the month of October, we participated in the Sock-Tober Event, collecting over 100 pairs of socks that were donated to a local shelter, and we had Treats for Troops and Survivors, collecting over 50 pounds of candy. Currently we have a Giving Tree for Boys and Girls Village,” said Mary L. Tracy Principal Kai Byrd.
Through the Holiday Giving Drive, staff and families are invited to purchase items from a list to donate to the Boys and Girls Village of Milford. Organizers ask that all items be returned to MLT unwrapped and placed in the boxes in the main lobby by December 18th.
Not only are students at MLT encouraged to give to the community; they embrace diversity by learning about tolerance and acceptance. On December 8, students were invited to have a family member join the student’s class to share a holiday celebration or tradition that the family celebrates.
Activities for the event included a family quilt project, where each student and their special guest designed a quilt square that represents their family and their traditions. Teachers pieced together the quilts for display in our school. A variety of seasonal stories were also read in the classrooms by family members and then the teachers and room parents provided a snack. Students also made creative crafts that they brought home.
At Race Brook School, the annual student council Holiday Gift Drive is in full swing and staff was overwhelmed by the generosity of families who have contributed to the gift drive. Within the first few days of the annual gift drive many of the candles had already been spoken for, and gifts had already begun to trickle in. Parents chose from paper candles on the main entrance bulletin board that listed the gender, age and type of gift requested. Once the drive concludes, the gifts are delivered to local families who can use the help of others at the holidays.
At Turkey Hill, students donated toys for kids in the Boys and Girls Village of Milford, a local organization dedicated to helping children and families in need. Beginning in late November, there were paper mittens and stars hanging in the front lobby. Written on each mitten or star was an item that a specific child wishes to receive for the holidays. Gifts were brought in to school unwrapped and will be delivered to local families who will now have a holiday that is a little brighter than it would have been without the generosity of students.
Students at Peck Place collected food items for the Orange Food Pantry through Orange Community Services. At the holidays, Community Services looks for organizations, businesses and residents to sponsor the baskets and adopt a family.
According to Director of Community Services Joan Cretella, “We can also use donations of gift cards to distribute to supplement the baskets. If you are able, please consider a monetary donation for our Community Assistance Program Fund which supplements the Food Bank and provides funds for fuel assistance. These programs are funded solely by donations and the generosity of our community.”
According to Cretella, “Every year Community Services also organizes a gift-giving event for our resident families and elderly in need. We are asking Orange residents to adopt one of our families/elderly residents or to donate whatever they can.”
The families that participate are asked to send wish lists from their children to help sponsors with ideas for gift giving, whether it’s a toy, clothing, and a book or gift card. The identities of recipients are kept confidential for their privacy.
Photo: Students at Mary L. Tracy invited family members to share their holiday traditions with their classmates on December 8.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent