By Denise Dick
At the count of three, Taft Elementary School first-graders Kalvin Smith, Gio’Vannie Rozario and Ricardo Carrisquillo and their classmates pulled their new sweat shirts over their heads, poking their arms into the sleeves.
The navy blue Taft School sweat shirts were a gift to every Taft student from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Boardman.
The student body put on the shirts in a Tuesday morning assembly, thanking the church congregation.
Students filed into the school gym, the sweat shirts tucked beneath their arms.
Ruth Brayer of the church’s mission committee said that about seven years ago, the church decided to adopt a school.
“We knew we wanted to adopt a school on the South Side because that’s close to us, and we wanted to give to someone who needed it,” she said.
Each year, the school collects school supplies, socks, Christmas and Thanksgiving baskets and other items for the Taft children and their families.
They also provide a shoe fund to the school, allowing Taft personnel to buy shoes for students who need them.
In prior years, the church collected coats and jackets for Taft students, but not every student got one.
“This year we decided to get sweat shirts so we could give one to every student in the school,” Brayer said.
About 340 students are enrolled at Taft.
Principal Michael Flood thanked the church for all of the help and supplies its members have provided for the school and students over the years.
“Westminster Presbyterian Church has done so many things to help us here at Taft Elementary School,” he said.
The students will take pride in the sweat shirts and in representing their school, Flood said.
The children tried on the sweat shirts last week to ensure the best fit. They were left at the school so every student would have one for Tuesday’s event.
Ricardo, 7, rolled the bottom of his sweat shirt under so it’s not so long. He, Kalvin, 7, and another boy explained that it’s better to have a shirt that’s a little big so they can wear it longer.
Gio’Vannie, 6, said he would wear his new shirt to school.