A holiday tradition that completes a social studies unit on wants and needs, the fifth-grade Community Box Project at Tioga Hills Elementary was continued this year, with some modifications due to COVID-19. Facilitated by the fifth-grade teachers each year, the students also learn a lesson in kindness and giving back to the community.
This year, students and their families filled the shoe boxes with personal care items at home. Then, during their in-person day of attendance the week of December 7 - 11, student cohorts wrapped their boxes in the classroom and walked them down Glann Road to the Park Terrace Community Food Pantry, housed in the basement of the Park Terrace Methodist Church.
Ben Cucci, founder of the nonprofit Nathan’s Butterflies, is a student in Mrs. Schake’s class. He helped secure donations for 15 additional boxes to add to the class’ total, as well as bulk amounts of face masks and hand sanitizers to be included in each family’s box this year.
Altogether, the students delivered 55 hand-wrapped, hand-decorated shoe boxes filled with personal care items to the Apalachin Food Pantry. Students also received a tour of the pantry from Brenda Cronk, the mother of fifth-grade teacher Sarah Gilliland, and a co-director of the food pantry.
After each tour, Mrs. Cronk explained to the students that the families who rely on the food pantry throughout the year really appreciate the community boxes of toiletries that the students donate during the holidays, as they are not able to provide such items through the pantry. She thanked them for all they do for this project, and how nice they make the boxes look.