Whitesboro Central School District staff members have supported the Hope House for many years, but students have never joined in - - until now.
On December 15, all of Hart’s Hill Elementary School’s students took turns decorating and assembling “kindness bags” for those served by the Hope House, in Utica.
Established in 1992, the Hope House cares for homeless and needy individuals in the Utica area. The organization serves more than 90,000 meals a year and acts as a referral service, sending people with various needs to the appropriate support agency. Those served by the organization come from all walks of life. Some are homeless, while others have addictions, illnesses or just can’t afford to put food on the table. But, no one is turned away.
“As a staff, we think teaching students to be charitable is an important lifelong lesson,” said Mrs. Kennedy, special education teacher at Hart’s Hill Elementary, who also is a long-time volunteer at the Hope House. “Also, making kindness bags coincides with our mission statement to ‘inspire, cultivate, and empower’ our children. By seeing that they have the ability to help others locally, students realize that they are able to make a positive difference in their community.”
Every grade at Hart’s Hill was assigned an item to bring in for the kindness bags. Once filled, each kindness bag contained a hat, scarf, mittens, hand warmers, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, bar of soap, hand lotion, chapstick, crackers, cookies, Ramen noodles, hot chocolate and holiday card.
For some, it will be the only gift they receive this holiday season.
“It’s a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit and to give to an important cause,” added Mrs. Kennedy.
The Whitesboro Teachers’ Association, which volunteers at the Hope House every month, also donated to the cause.