Number of Participants: 50
Hours Donated: 1
Value of Time Served: $423
Event Type: Children & Youth
Date: December 18, 2020
The holidays are the season of giving and students and staff at Birch Lane Elementary School in the Massapequa School District have lived by that mantra this year by contributing to food and toy drives in December.
This year’s toy drive was organized by the fifth grade classes. It was held in honor of former Birch Lane teacher John Coyne, who retired in June. Every year for more than two decades, his fifth grade class coordinated a toy drive and his students served as elves to promote the drive and collect the toys.
The entire fifth grade came together to keep the tradition alive. This year’s elves were led by teachers Jeanne Brustmeyer, Heather Constantino, Lauren Marocchi, Nancy McHale, Susan Murphy and Casey Palmer.
Students and staff were encouraged to contribute a new, unwrapped toy or a gift card for Amazon, Best Buy, Target or Walmart. Just like in previous years, donations will go to the John Theissen Children’s Foundation to benefit sick and underprivileged children across Long Island. By mid-December, more than 300 toys had already been collected.
“I think this is important because it will help kids through a tough time,” fifth grader Grayson Graham said. “It makes me feel grateful because I’m able to do something good.”
Social worker Denise Glenn organized the food drive to support the YES Community Counseling Center in Massapequa, which runs a food pantry. To help ensure all needs were met, each grade level was assigned a different item to donate. She noted that because of the pandemic, the food drive was expanded this year to included cleaning supplies.
Ms. Glenn said that in order to help keep local food pantries stocked on a regular basis, the district’s six elementary schools hold food drives on a rotating basis.
“Due to COVID-19,” she said, “our local resources are being utilized more than ever by those in need in the community.”
1: Birch Lane Elementary School fifth graders spearheaded a holiday toy drive for the John Theissen Children’s Foundation. Casey Donohue, Joe Whitson and teacher Susan Murphy show the hundreds of toys that had been collected as of Dec. 15.
2: Fifth grade teachers Lauren Marocchi and Heather Constantino, along with students Grayson Graham and Matthew Pensato, were grateful for the generosity of Birch Lane students and staff.
3: Food and cleaning supply donation bins were in Birch Lane’s front lobby. Social worker Denise Glynn, who organized the drive for YES Community Counseling Center, was joined kindergartners Brandon Green and Hailey Mallia.
Photos courtesy of the Massapequa School District