With generous hearts and a drive to help others, the Wampus community came together in December to donate and wrap a mountain of holiday gifts for children at the Pleasantville Cottage School.
Meeting after school on December 11, student and parent volunteers got busy wrapping the presents, a combination of cold-weather necessities like hats and gloves and gifts of makeup sets and sporting equipment.
By the time the last piece of tape was affixed to a colorful package, the gifts were piled high at the annual “Gift of Giving” event, organized by the Byram Hills PTSA’s Wampus Community Service Committee.
After the wrapping party, organizers brought about 20 large bags full of gifts to the Pleasantville Cottage School, a residential treatment center for children and young adults.
“We are thrilled we were able to make the holiday season bright for other kids in the community outside of Wampus,” said committee co-chairwoman Lyndie Fasold. “It really personified what the holiday season should be about - just giving back. This is the hallmark of what we’re trying to achieve through the Wampus Community Service Committee.”
This year, there were more people involved in the wrapping event, including Wampus students in the VIP Jr. community service club and Girl Scout and Brownie troops.
“The event was a huge success,” Mrs. Fasold said. “The involvement far surpassed what we had in previous years.”
Students who donated and wrapped gifts were happy to be helping others.
“It feels very good and it makes you really proud to know that you’re doing something very good,” said fifth grader Sophia Deeks, a member of VIP Jr.
Logan Verma, another fifth grader in VIP Jr., said: “It feels nice to help the community. It’s important during the holidays to give people joy and happiness.”
Third grader Riley Condon, who wrapped gifts with her Brownie troop, said the wrapping was fun and “it felt good to give stuff to people that don’t have many things.”
The gifts were donated to the Pleasantville Cottage School, where 215 children and young adults reside. Most of them are ages 13 to 17, and approximately half were on campus Christmas morning to receive a donated gift, said Sandi Rosenthal, director of volunteers at JCCA, the nonprofit organization that runs the school.
“They were amazing,” Ms. Rosenthal said of the gifts donated from Wampus. “All of the children who woke up here Christmas morning had gifts under the tree because of the Wampus ‘Gift of Giving.’”
The Wampus volunteers labeled the gifts, and staff members at the Pleasantville Cottage School chose a gift suitable for each resident.
“Because of the children at Wampus, our children had the joy of waking up Christmas morning and opening a present picked especially for them,” Ms. Rosenthal said.
“It makes them feel loved and cared for,” she said. “It tells them there are people out there who do care about them.”