The Gift of Giving: VHS Annual Holiday Toy Drive


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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Mr. Thai and the VHS Student Council participated in our Annual School Toy Drive. Our initial goal was to collect toys for elementary school students from Pre-K to 4th grades for two local schools in Newark: Hawkins Street School and Salome Urena Elementary School. We needed 648 toys this year to ensure that each student from both schools would be able to get at least one toy this holiday season. We are very proud to share that we exceeded our goal thanks to the generosity of our students, staff, and community.

On Tuesday December 18th, ten members of the Student Council as well as two faculty members, Linda Barone and Jonathan Thai, visited Hawkins School. This year, Student Council Vice President, Harrison Keating, had the honor of playing Santa for the day. Accompanying Santa were his ‘little elves’: Nicolette Marino, Philip Chivily, Kate Ryan, Brooke Cooney, Michael Sluck, Christian Dionisio, Abby Bermeo, Clara Frizzi, and Brianna Camp.

Santa and his ‘little elves’ were able to give all 354 students at Hawkins School from kindergarten through fourth grade at least one toy. The students were elated to unwrap their gifts!

For the second year in a row, the Verona community was also able to donate toys to the students of Salome Urena Elementary School in Newark (formerly North 10th Street School). This year we were able to provide 294 students from Pre-K to 4th grade with a toy. In addition to these two schools, the toy drive served families in Verona who had requested a toy donation. In all, we were able to provide nearly 700 children with a toy this holiday season!

We would like to thank our VHS Student Council, Mr. Thai, Mrs. Barone, teachers, community members, and administration at both VHS and HBW. A special thank you to Dr. Smith for organizing the toy collection at HBW as their efforts helped contribute to the VHS Toy Drive. Thank you to the custodial staff for their help packing and organizing gifts. Most of all, we extend our gratitude to members of our community for your amazing generosity. We are very grateful for the time and thoughtfulness that was put into purchasing each toy.

All of the children at Hawkins Street School and Salome Urena Elementary School were so excited, happy, and appreciative! Most of all, this annual event gave our school and our students the greatest gift of all…the gift of giving. Happy holidays and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2019!

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