Giving something away is the spirit of the holiday, pupils learn.
BOARDMAN — Banding together, a small group of fourth-graders learned the reason for the season by donating to a family overseas.
In the course of 12 days, Gina Hammerton’s class at Stadium Drive School in Boardman filled three boxes with gifts.
“Students at the school are so used to asking for what they want on the holidays, instead of what they can give someone else,” she said. “I thought getting the class to donate to someone else was a good idea this year.”
Hammerton said the class participates in the Chick-fil-A “Core Essentials” program, which aids teachers with character-building discussions and exercises. As a feature of the program, pupils are given a new “value of the month” to ponder.
This month the value is “generosity,” which Hammerton said fit in well with the season and the project.
“During this time of year, I think it’s important for the kids to think of giving to someone else,” she said.
While browsing through the newspaper in late November, she came across The Vindicator’s Operation Holiday Cheer. Names and addresses of service people overseas allowed readers to send letters, care packages and support.
She browsed through the list of men and women until she found Tiffany Ciampo, a 2006 Boardman High School graduate stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, along with her husband and newborn. And after deciding on a candidate, she explained to her pupils that Ciampo worked as a dental technician and would be away from loved ones during Christmas.
“I thought how lucky my kids are for being able to go home to their families,” Hammerton said, “And that it’s something we take for granted.”
So with a list of suggested items to donate, Hammerton’s pupils and their parents gathered snacks, hygiene items and baby supplies to donate.
“We got them things like lotion and peanuts,” said 10-year-old Emily Hurl. “We gave them those things because they need our help.”
Hurl and her 18 classmates pitched in with more than 60 home comforts: lip balm, stationery, shampoo, baby clothes and even Jolly Ranchers candy.
“It’s always good to have sweets,” explained Koby Adu-Poku, 10, when asked if his contribution would be appreciated by Ciampo — a dental technician.
“Everyone likes candy,” he said.
Hammerton, who has taught for 11 years, said the project is one she hopes to repeat each year, both to help families in need and to get the children thinking about volunteerism. She said she hopes other classes will be influenced to take part as well.
“Just at this age, in fourth grade, I think it’s important to understand service learning and doing things for other people in this hectic time of year.”
Many of her pupils jumped at the opportunity to elaborate on the meaning of December’s “value of the month.”
“I know,” said Koby, “You’re making someone’s day by giving something away!”
Hammerton said the packages were mailed Dec. 12 and are expected to arrive shortly after Christmas Day.