Giving Back for the Holidays

All around the district, students and staff are helping to connect their schools to the local community by giving back this holiday season. Below is just a sampling of what’s happening in the district this month:

Mitten Trees
Mitten Trees are on display in the lobbies at South Bay, Tooker Avenue, Santapogue and Forest Avenue. Student and staff donations of new gloves, mittens, winter hats and scarves are then distributed to local community members in need.  

John Theissen Children’s Foundation
Many of the schools are participating in this initiative, which collects toys for local children in need. The senior high school’s music department hosts a holiday cabaret on Dec. 18 that benefits the toy drive as well.

At Forest Avenue and Tooker Avenue, a large box in the school lobby invites staff and students to donate a new, unwrapped toy. “The holiday season gives us an opportunity to spend time with family and friends and be thankful for everything we have in life,” said Tooker Avenue Principal Charles Germano. “It also gives us an opportunity to help those in need.”
At Santapogue, the fifth-grade student council members wrap the gifts. Half are donated to the John Theissen Foundation and the remainder is distributed to Santapogue’s own families in need.

Giving Trees
The annual Giving Trees at South Bay and Forest Avenue contain tags with holiday gifts requested by local families in need. South Bay also holds an annual coat drive.
JFK staff and PTA families started a Giving Tree this year. There are several families who will benefit from the initiative. The school also donated gift cards to the local supermarket for families in need during the Thanksgiving season.

Food Drives
South Bay organizes 10-Can Days, where students bring in cans for deposit. The cans are redeemed and supermarket gift cards are purchased for needy families. Food donations are also collected to create holiday food baskets, which are given to needy families in the school community.

The student council at the junior high school collects and assembles gift baskets with the donations from its holiday food drive. The entire student body participates in “Battle of the Baskets,” in which the homerooms compete against each other.  The battle consists of homerooms receiving a breakfast, lunch or dinner list and the rooms compete to complete their basket first. In addition, the JHS staff raises money to help district families during the holidays.  

Other Initiatives
First-grade students at South Bay, accompanied by the student council, visit the East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to sing songs with the residents and give them holiday cards.

For the third consecutive year, the Tooker Avenue Student Council is organizing a pajama drive through the Scholastic Reading Bedtime Story Pajama Drive. The donated pajamas will be distributed to children in need throughout Long Island.