Students kickstart WCS Christmas hamper program

Grade 5/6 students at St. Teresa school in Elmira are helping gather items for the WCS Christmas hamper program. Among those taking part are Jacob K, Cohen H, Haley G, and Olivia W. [Aneta Rebiszewski / The Observer]

With the weather perhaps prompting people to begin their Christmas shopping in earnest, many groups are encouraging us to think about others who might not be so fortunate. Among those adopting the spirit of giving back, St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Elementary School students are collecting items for Christmas hampers for Woolwich Community Services, along with baskets that will be raffled off at the church.

This year’s effort is part of the schools longstanding support for community initiatives such as the Thanksgiving food drive and the Christmas Angel Tree. This time around, Grade 5/6 teacher Anna-Marie Tupling decided to get the school involved in Christmas hampers.

“It’s a hard time for a lot of families, there’s a lot of expenses that come up. For some it’s a time of joy and for others they’re just struggling to get by, so it’s an opportunity for us to give back,” she said.

 The hampers that will go to WCS are aimed at those in need throughout the community, providing items that will help them through the holidays and the winter months. Some of the items that are most needed are toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, hand soap and the like. The school is also looking to collect items such as hats, mittens, books, small toys for various ages and small gift cards for restaurants or shopping that can be used as gifts.

For Tupling, the drive is more than just giving back to the community but it is about teaching her students about the needs in their own community.

“We often think globally which we need to, but I think sometimes we neglect our own backyard and I think we need to know there is needs in our own community,” she said.

Last year, Tupling’s class of Grade 5 and 6 kids wanted to get involved, so she took the initiative to take them to tour the food bank and show them around the WCS thrift store.

“We’re blessed in so many ways a lot of times, so to make it real for them to help them make that connection,” she said of why it’s important that her students learn about the needs in the local community. “In a season like Christmas here at the school we really focus on advent and preparing our hearts. To drive back that meaning to what it’s really about instead of the materialism, to know and recognize that the things we have are not the things that everybody else has.”

Along with the Christmas hampers, the school is collecting items that will be used for the silent auction during the Christmas dinner that the parish puts on for the community. These baskets focus on prizes that can be won, says Tupling, so the items are a bit different than what is needed in the hampers.

There are three themed baskets that items are needed for, one of them is geared towards children so items such as small games, toys, puzzles and craft items can be donated. Whereas the next two baskets are aimed at adults, one being more of a relaxation basket that can be filled with candles, soaps, or bubble baths, while the other basket is more practical with items needed such as car scarpers, kitchen gadgets or anything that helps out.

The collecting of donations has already begun and will be running until December 4. If anyone is interested in donating some of the items needed for the hampers or the baskets, they can be dropped off at the school’s main office in Elmira or directly to the WCS office. More information and a list of items can be found online.

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