Brightening Up the Holidays for Those in Need
In true Baymen fashion, students throughout the district are thinking of others in various ways this holiday season. They’re conducting toy drives and collecting cold weather items to keep others warm this winter. They’re taking part in service-learning projects to help support a cause, and spreading cheer through the gift of song by performing for others in the community. While such activities take place throughout the course of the year, there’s no time quite like the holiday season for spreading good will. Here is just a sample of the students’ endeavors.
Student Councils at both Oyster Bay High School and James H. Vernon School led the charge to collect toys from their peers so that children in need could have a brighter holiday, while social worker Ms. Migdalia Rosario coordinated a drive at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School. Hundreds of toys from the high school were donated to the Interreligious Human Needs Council of Oyster Bay, then brought to the First Presbyterian Church where families can pick them up, according to advisors Ms. Danielle Urtheil and Ms. Deanna Cali. Toys from Vernon and Roosevelt schools were sent to the Community Social Action Network to benefit Oyster Bay families.
“It makes me feel good that we are giving back to kids that may not have these kinds of toys and I think everyone in the school should feel good for participating in the toy drive,” said sixth-grader Joseph La Rosa, Vice President of the Vernon Student Council. According to Vernon’s Student Council advisor, Ms. Diana Hauser, the students collected nearly 260 toys over the course of a week. Two classes that contributed the most were acknowledged with a small prize.
Toys were also collected by student athletes, according to Athletic Director Mr. Kevin Trentowski. Four girls’ varsity teams, their coaches and a local youth team came together and donated loads of toys at the 13th annual Lady Baymen Basketball Tournament.
The Student Councils, as well as National Honor Society, also publicized around their schools the need for coats, scarves, hats and gloves, for those less fortunate.
Giving the gift of song, the Vernon 5th and 6th Grade Chorus performed for senior citizens in the community when they visited the Life Enrichment Center and the Oyster Bay High School Chamber Singers shared their beautiful voices at various venues, including the Oyster Bay Tree Lighting, a Board of Education meeting and in each school in the District.
In keeping with a 25-year tradition, the 7th grade home and careers students participated in their first service-learning project — the annual baking, constructing and decorating of gingerbread houses, led by Ms. Antonia Woodman, the service-learning teacher for home and careers. Eighty-four houses were created and sold to the community to help fight childhood cancer.
“For years we have sold the houses and raised thousands of dollars for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a non-profit organization committed to raising funds for research to develop new, improved treatments for pediatric cancer,” Ms. Woodman said. “The houses are sold to families in the District who offer a suggested donation. Houses that are not sold are put on display for sale at the winter concerts.”
While helping others is an integral part of this project, students also develop a combination of skills that span the curriculum.
“They learn about the origin of gingerbread-making in Germany and German traditions, as well as other traditions from various cultures; they develop their baking skills, and build their service skills by keeping track of their hours, their responsibilities and what they’ve accomplished,” Ms. Woodman said.
Last year, the gingerbread house project raised more than $2,5000 and its success has been highlighted in the organization’s fundraising cookbook, Cookies for Kid’s Cancer: All the Good Cookies.
While decorating their houses, students expressed what it means to them to be part of this project.
“I’m doing something that I like to do, which is baking, and the money is going to a good cause,” said 7th grader Faith Lingen.
“We’re doing something fun while helping children at the same time,” classmate Daniel Rivera, added.
Also through this organization, the National Junior Honor Society, under Ms. Woodman’s advisement, will lead a fundraising effort for “Put a Lid on Childhood Cancer.” The effort is chaired by 9th grader Sophie Grady and will be collecting donations from Jan. 8-12. On Friday, Jan. 12, everyone in the school will be asked to wear a cap to show their support for the cause.
Happy holidays and a happy, healthy New Year to all!
OBHS Student Council officers display the toys they collected.
Vernon School Student Council gets ready to donate toys to the community.
Oyster Bay Lady Baymen and other basketball teams in the area came together to donate toys at the 13th annual Lady Baymen Basketball Tournament.
The Vernon 5th and 6th grade chorus performs for seniors at the Life Enrichment Center.
The OBHS Chamber Singers' performance in Principal Ms. Sharon Lasher's office is broadcast over the public address (PA) system for the entire school to enjoy.
OBHS 7th graders use stencils to create gingerbread houses to help fight childhood cancer.
OBHS 7th graders pipe icing to decorate their houses.
Two of the 84 gingerbread houses that raised thousands for the cause, thanks to community support.