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UCPS staff, faculty and students spread holiday cheer

Staff members of the UCPS Child Nutrition Department load up some of the approximately 140 stockings bound for the Christmas Bureau.

Elementary, middle and high school staff and students in Union County joined in the spirit of the season helping those in need for the holiday season. The following are just a few examples of those good deeds.

East Union Middle School
East Union Middle School’s SADD but TRU Club (Students Against Destructive Decisions but Tobacco Reality Unfiltered) decided to help feed the hungry when they heard that hundreds of children across the county left school each Friday and ate little or nothing until they returned to school on Monday.

The club started collecting canned food in November, and in a very short period of time, collected more than 1,400 cans of food. These were divided among 20 needy families in the Marshville area, just in time for the holidays.

Angelique Newton, a teacher at East Union Middle, said the success of the project was due to the faculty and students of East Union Middle School who graciously donated the canned items. The event was so successful that the club has decided to make this an annual project.

Forest Hills High School
Forest Hills High School faculty and students helped bring warmth to about 1,355 people in a project called “Warming the Soles.”

Students collected new socks and donated them to four local agencies: the Union County Christmas Bureau, Turning Point, the Union County Group Home for Children and the Union County Community Shelter.

Forest Hills art teacher Alicia Swackhamer, who coordinated the effort, said the goal was to teach students that even in hard economic times, you could still give back to the community.

Prospect Elementary School

Prospect Elementary School's halls resounded with cheers and cultural Christmas music as the second annual Cultural Christmas parade made its way through the school.

“The classes have worked very hard preparing for the parade,” said Airen Hartis, Prospect Elementary’s media coordinator. “The students were dressed in costumes from around the world, showing how each culture celebrated Christmas.”

Students lined the halls as their classmates marched through carrying banners, signs, flags and other holiday items related to the country their class chose to represent.

The many countries represented in the parade included Guatemala, Argentina, Egypt, Ireland, France, Spain, the Philippines and Australia. Students wore traditional outfits and carried items related to their country, like flags, maps and ornaments.

Guatemala began the parade with a crafted flag and sign stating the country's holiday traditions. Australia finished up the parade with students carrying stuffed animals native to their country.

The parade concluded with school principal Jannie Bankston and assistant principal Emily McGinnis handing out candy in the traditional parade fashion.

Stallings Elementary School
Thanks to students from Stallings Elementary School, children around the world may have had a little better Christmas this year.

Under the guidance of Cinda Gatrell, a teacher at Stallings Elementary, students collected more than 60 shoeboxes to send to the Operation Christmas Child project.

“Many students took on this project alone and others made group boxes,” said Janice Deane, Stallings Elementary’s media assistant. “The students wanted to make sure that the children that received their boxes would have a happy holiday.”

Sun Valley High School

Students from Sun Valley High School raised more than $20,000 that was used to help about 30 local children and their families have a brighter Christmas during what has been dubbed the Sun Valley Student Council Children’s Christmas Party.

The money purchased warm clothing items for winter, including coats and sneakers. The money was also used to purchase Christmas presents for these families, and even a Christmas tree for any family that did not have one. Students bought food, toiletries and other household items for the families as well.

Students took the children to Monroe Mall and helped them try on clothes and shoes at various stores. They were even treated to lunch at Chick-Fil-A before returning to school.

National Honor Society students also got involved by collecting canned foods and dry goods for the families.

UCPS Child Nutrition

Union County Public Schools cafeteria employees and the UCPS Child Nutrition Department filled approximately 140 stockings that were delivered to the Christmas Bureau earlier this month. The School Nutrition Association sponsored the event.

“We have 344 employees and all are excited about the smiles that will be on the faces of our children in Union County this holiday season,” said Brenda Robinson, Child Nutrition secretary.

Union Elementary School

Students from Union Elementary School decided to take on a holiday challenge – support “Operation Christmas Child” for Samaritan’s Purse in Charlotte.

“The (fifth-grade) teachers wanted to teach an important lesson – that it is ‘better to give than to receive’,” said Kristen Avant, a fifth-grade teacher at the school and one of the organizers.

Students sold candy at the school’s fall festival and at a PTO night in hopes of raising the $7 needed per box that Samaritan’s Purse requires for shipping and handling. Students raised $230, with an additional $75 donated on PTO night. Fifth graders filled 41 boxes.

The items used to stuff the boxes, donated by parents of the fifth grade students, included toys, school supplies, hygiene items, candy, socks and hair clips. Students were given the option of supporting a boy or a girl in the age range of 10-14 years old.

Students also wrote a letter and included it in their box in hopes of finding out to what country their donation was sent.

Waxhaw Elementary School

Waxhaw Elementary first graders studied the holiday traditions of several countries around the world.

"We compared some of these celebrations to the traditions we have in our own diverse homes here in Waxhaw,” said kindergarten teacher Tiffany Brown.

Some of the traditions studied included the book, The Spiders' Surprise, a German Folktale about how sparkling tinsel used on Christmas trees around the world started out as cobwebs left by spiders that were let in the house to see the Christmas tree.

Other countries and traditions studied included the legend of the little elf, Tomte, who gives out presents in Sweden; La Bofana from Italy; and Christmas poppers from England.

Wingate Elementary

Wingate Elementary students collected more than 1,500 food items over the course of three weeks for those in need this holiday season in a project called, “Helping Hands.”

Students collected canned food, dried beans, rice, cookies, and crackers to donate to the Union County Christmas Bureau for distribution among those in need throughout Union County.

Wingate Elementary’s guidance counselor, Sandy Coggins, who coordinated the effort, said the goal was to teach students how even elementary-age students can help each other and give back to their own communities.

“At Wingate, each of our classes are in a ‘constellation family.’ Each constellation family challenged the other families to see which group could donate the most food items to the Christmas Bureau,” said Eric S. Doan, assistant principal at Wingate Elementary. “Donation totals were updated daily on the lobby bulletin board, which raised the excitement level and motivated the students to bring more food items.”

Wolfe School

Students of Ellen LeRoy and Karen Thalma, both teachers at Wolfe School, made scarves to donate to Wrapped in HIS Warmth, a charitable organization that donates scarves, hats, gloves and mittens to children of economically disadvantaged families.

The fabric, donated by a staff member at Wolfe, was cut into scarf dimensions and the students cut the fringe for decoration.

Thalman then contacted Koreen Marx, founder of Wrapped in HIS Warmth, who picked up the donated items.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Dec 29, 2010 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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