Yesterday, Teach.com interviewed Harrison Kratz, founder of Operation: Social Santa, to kick off our week-long series about giving back during the holidays and how teachers can organize toy drives, food donations, and service projects to teach students the importance of giving.
In our interview with Operation: Social Santa, we learned how the power of social media can be harnessed to organize toy drives and brighten the holidays for children in need on a national scale.
Today, we bring you an interview with Mrs. Donna Mccormick-Miller, the principal of Makefield Elementary School in Pennsylvania, conducted by Harrison on behalf of Teach.com, to learn about how her school gives back during the holidays. Every year, Makefield Elementary School organizes a clothing drive to donate hats and gloves to people in need.
Read on to hear how Makefield students help their community, and how individual schools everywhere can each make an impact in the lives of those less fortunate.
Harrison Kratz: Who's idea was it to set up the hats and gloves drive at Makefield? How has it changed over the years?
Mrs. Mccormick-Miller: I have been the Principal here for 16 years and it has been a tradition here since then and was supported by our Student Council initially. It hasn't changed much over the years since it is such a simple way to help those in need. I am happy to say that the one change has been the amount of items that we have been collecting over the years...it is overwhelming!
HK: How do you get the students excited about giving back?
MM: Our school theme is "Help Us Help Others." It has also been the focus of our Student Council to reach out to our local community and beyond to help out. The students get excited about it because the staff talk about it and participate in the collection. They model for their students how everyone can help and make a difference.
HK: Do teachers at Makefield ever organize their own charity drives for the holidays? If so, how do you support them?
MM: For several years now, the staff has adopted local families and purchased Christmas gifts for those families. We put up a sign up sheet in our faculty lounge and everyone contributes. We purchase everything from food to clothing to books and games. We have a wrapping party so that when the families come to pick up the presents they are all ready to go.
HK: Why give back? What makes helping others important to you, and why should people seek opportunities to give to others during the holidays?
It is our hope that these acts of kindness will create a chain reaction that is felt all over the world
MM: "Why give back?" is a question we often ask our students. What we want them to realize is how fortunate they are to have the things that they have. We try to raise their awareness about families and people in need, and there is no better time to do that than the holidays. It is extremely empowering for people, no matter what age, to help someone in need...it makes us all feel good inside.
HK: Do you have any advice or tips for other principals and teachers who would want to set up a holiday charity drive in their school?
MM: If they have not yet, they should definitely set something up and get it going no matter how small they think it may be. For us at Makefield, simply supplying someone with a hat or a pair of gloves--or even Holiday presents--makes a difference.
HK: Do you have any favorite stories about students giving back during the holidays? Or just the holidays at Makefield in general?
MM: I enjoy this time of year and watching the joy on the faces of our students when they are able to help in some small way. We also take a trip to the area nursing home to spread some holiday cheer to the residents. It's just a small gesture, but it means so much to the staff and residents. It is my hope that by giving our young people experiences and exposures to things like this, they will continue to contribute to society in very positive ways.
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