Education

Giving tree inspires Bellefonte Area students to give back

From left, Jennifer Richardson, Eddie Fitzgerald and Mikayla Corrigan bring presents from the “giving tree” to the guidance office on Dec. 16 at Bellefonte Area High School.
From left, Jennifer Richardson, Eddie Fitzgerald and Mikayla Corrigan bring presents from the “giving tree” to the guidance office on Dec. 16 at Bellefonte Area High School. psheehan@centredaily.com

Some Bellefonte Area High School students, faculty and staff participated in a school-wide holiday gift exchange that went beyond just giving tangible gifts.

It was also the gift of giving back.

And some student participants said it was even more worth it knowing the gifts they provided to other students in need wouldn’t be wasted.

It’s that much better because we know someone can actually use it. It’s not just a teddy bear that is nice and all, but doesn’t have much of a purpose

Kayla Kimble, Bellefonte Area junior

“It’s that much better because we know someone can actually use it,” junior Kayla Kimble said. “It’s not just a teddy bear, that is nice and all, but doesn’t have much of a purpose.”

Through a “giving tree,” teacher and student council adviser Jennifer Richardson said a Christmas tree was set up in her classroom meant to provide inspiration for people to buy gifts for eligible students.

It was filled with ornament tags created by student council students listing specific items.

Students, faculty and staff were encouraged to grab a tag and buy whatever items were written on it.

A school counselor distributed the gifts to eligible students who otherwise might not have received gifts this year.

Bellefonte Area giving tree will help students in need this holiday season.

This year, Kimble selected an ornament that encouraged her to purchase a gift card.

“It can help not just the student who it might go to, but their family as well,” she said.

The recipients are anonymous, Richardson said.

“It goes to someone they know, even though they don’t know who,” Richardson said. “I say to my kids, ‘These kids might not otherwise get a gift this year, and this can make their holiday.’ ”

Junior Brian Feldman said student council members decorated the tree, while advisers collected names of students who could benefit from the program.

“It’s important to give back and especially do it starting at a young age,” Feldman said. “In a way, you get a lot more out of it because you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes and really put that into perspective.”

Gifts include gift cards, hygiene and toiletry products and clothing.

Gifts include gift cards, hygiene and toiletry products and clothing.

Richardson said the campaign began more than 15 years ago.

“Faculty and staff came to me with suggestions of a beneficiary,” Richardson said. “They remain anonymous, but it’s a big part of the holidays that can really make it great for them.”

This year, 18 students were eligible to receive gifts.

Richardson said some people also provided monetary donations to those students — most of it through adding money to their lunch accounts.

“It’s just a really neat way to help someone right here in our community and at our school,” Richardson said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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