The Middle School has continued its long-standing collaboration with Temple Beth El in Boca Raton in supporting The Giving Tree program during the holidays. For a few weeks in December, the Middle School office is host to a large wooden evergreen tree where various multi-color tags hang - a calling card of The Giving Tree project.
Take a closer look - and those tags show the “wishes” of needy children and families in Boca Raton - wishes that can be filled by members of the SA community. Students and families at SA are encouraged to review the wishes posted on the tree, and consider filling one by purchasing and donating the items listed.
“As a participant in The Giving Tree's holiday program, a student and their family can fulfill the wish list of a local needy child who, without your help, may not receive any gifts at holiday time,” said Michelle Wolff, The Giving Tree volunteer, and former SA parent.
Most of the children ask for basic necessities; underwear, socks, clothing, as well as a favorite book and toy. Then the gifts are wrapped by volunteers. Finally, on Christmas Eve, gifts are delivered to the children of Dixie Manor housing in Boca Raton.
Renée Blatt, Middle School parent, was thrilled to participate in this year’s Giving Tree effort. “It is so important to me to help young children feel special at this time of the year,” she said. “Wanting or needing something in one's life can be hard, and The Giving Tree helps relieve some of that stress for some families. A little joy goes a long way,” she added.
Jen Thompson, Lower and Middle School parent also views this project as an annual reminder of the importance of giving. “To our busy family at this time of year, challenges pale into insignificance compared with those faced by the less fortunate.”
The Giving Tree project is one that Jen’s family had been involved in for many years through their children’s former school in their home country. They were so pleased upon joining the SA community to discover that Saint Andrew’s is also a participant in The Giving Tree.
Jen considers this project an opportunity to make significant empathetic connections in the minds and hearts of her children. Jen pairs her children with others of the same age, and involves them, where possible, in choosing the presents.
“This seems to make the act of giving more tangible and relatable to them and - especially when the requested gifts are for items which they may take for granted such as clothes or sneakers - helps them understand better how privileged they are.”
Though The Giving Tree is just one service project that the school offers in December, the impacts are long-lasting.“The positive feeling our children receive from giving back encourages them to engage in other small acts of service throughout the year,” said Jen.
And when those small acts of kindness and service add up, they amount to what differentiates SA from other schools. For Scots, community is everything.