FRAMINGHAM – There was joy and laughter at the Framingham High auditorium Thursday morning. It wasn’t a production by the arts department bringing Christmas cheer, but Framingham High students providing gifts for needy mor ethan 150 Framingham elementary children and food for their families.
Continuing a tradition that dates back to the 1940s, about 200 Framingham students, many in the National Honor Society, began working on the annual holiday drive in November, said advisor Susan Corcoran.
This year, the students, along with faculty members, helped 60 families from the nine elementary schools in Framingham, said Corcoran.
In the fall, social workers, guidance counselors, and staff from each of the elementary schools identified families with financial and health issues.
That’s when holiday drive co-chair and Framingham High junior Libby Morningstar got to work. She made sure the families were contacted on how to pick up their box of food and their bag of gifts. Most of the families picked up their food and gifts on Thursday, but students also delivered to some families.
Each family received a frozen turkey, donated by Market Basket, and a box of food.
Each child in the family received one big toy, a couple of smaller toys, and an outfit.
“But many of the kids get more than 3-4 toys,” said Corcoran. “The students love shopping and making Christmas special for these families.”
Morningstar helped maintain a spreadsheet about each child, including their favorite color, what they like to do, favorite characters, clothing sizes, etc, to help the students shop for them.
While there were 60 families to support this year, there wer 164 kids to shop for this Christmas.
“We needed to cut back from last year,” said Corcoran. “Last year, the drive helped more than 225 students. 164 is more managable.
After Thanksgiving, students are assigned to homerooms to collect foods and cash for the annual holiday drive.
In December, the students shop for their families.
The freshman and sophomore homerooms each raised money and collected food for two families. Junior and senior homerooms collected for one family each, she explained.
Each homeroom raises a different amount; but a can drive at Stop & Shop supermarket in Framingham helps to raise additional funds so all the shopping can take place in December.
“The hardest part of the drive is teaching students how to ask for cash to help others,” said Corcoran.
Junior Richa Jain was also a drive chair. She did some last minute shopping Wednesday night at Kohl’s and AC Moore to pick up clothes, dolls, and jewelry for children who had requested specific items.
This year, Rogers Installation made a donation to the drive, and Timothy’s Toy Box donated 6 to 8 boxes of toys to the high school program. Timothy’s Tox Box founder Sharon Gilbert stopped by to see the drive in action on Thursday morning,
Also this season, 14 families were support by Framingham High faculty, the guidance department, and the Framingham Consumer Science department.
Framingham High junior Ben Silver was wrapping gifts for an 5-year-old girl Thursday morning. She loves Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen. On Christmas, she will open a Elsa-themed dress, a Elsa doll, and an Olfa snowman, who loves warm hugs.
Framingham High senior Bella Ricchiazzi was wrapping gifts for a teenage girl. She will receive boots and a watch, among other gifts.
Framingham High junior Eliza Menzel was wrapping a toy car for a boy, age 8. He also will receive a toy that combines two of his favorites passions – Star Wars and LEGO blocks.
Wednesday night, several students sorted food into 60 boxes for the families, explained Caitlin Edman, a Framingham High senior.
She said each box of food contains canned vegetables and fruit, canned beans, pasta, soup, macaroni and cheese, cereal, etc.
Thursday, she was wrapping gifts for her family outside the auditorium.
Next year, the high school would like the community to become more involved in the drive to help more families in need in town.
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