October, November and December can be considered some of the busiest months of the year. As the community prepared for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Halloween, Diwali, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and 2020 came in a hurry.
As eventful as the fall months can be, Island Trees still finds the time to remember others and to give back to the community that always supports one another. From J. Fred Sparke and Michael F. Stokes Elementary Schools to the Island Trees Memorial Middle School and High School, the season of giving was in full bloom. From supporting local families to large organizations, students, parents, school staff members and administrators set out to spread some holiday love.
To help those who benefit from a little extra support from the community, members of the Stokes family donated cans upon cans of non-perishable foods to local families in their annual food drive. Even kindergarteners and first graders recognized the power in helping others. Although candy isn’t a necessity of life, it sure does help make it sweeter. Thinking of the men and women serving our country overseas, members of the Island Trees family donated their extra Halloween candy to Operation Gratitude. Along with cards, a ton of candy was collected to show our support to those risking their lives daily.
Over at the high school, members of the French Club donated 50 winter hats to the Daniel Fuentes Foundation. The students understood the value of community service and giving back. At Sparke, the teachers helped support Sockotober. The collection of socks was to help support The Inn in Hempstead, a non-profit organization that addresses the issues of homelessness and hunger on Long Island. The Key Club at the high school chose to hold a fundraiser that would help them to adopt two local families.
The National Junior Honor Society at ITMMS took time to organize a book drive for students of all ages. It was the perfect way to provide gently used children and adult books to those who are less fortunate. The books were donated to The Book Fairies. According to their website, The Book Fairies is a not-for-profit organization that collects reading materials for people in need throughout metropolitan New York. The reading materials foster literacy and academic success, provide a respite from personal struggles, and nurture a love of reading across age groups. Members of the middle school carried in boxes and bags of some favorite titles that they were eager to pass on to others.
As the holidays approached, Island Trees made sure they did their part in creating many smiles with the annual toy drives. Sparke’s collection of toys was donated to the John Theissen Foundation. This foundation is a local organization that provides hospitals and child-care facilities with therapeutic and recreational equipment, supports families with financial assistance to defray medical expenses, as well as offer sick and needy children toys throughout the holiday season. Organized by the Brave Club, the middle school donated their collection of toys to Toys for Tots. The high school’s Athletes Helping Athletes held their annual toy drive for Cohen Children’s Medical Center. Members of both the middle school and high school were able to donate new toys to this worthwhile cause. Toys were delivered to the children who couldn’t help but smile and be grateful for the outpouring of love our district displayed.
The high school’s Tri-M Music Honor Society collected unwrapped toys for the pediatric patients at Nassau University Medical Center. The sax ensemble, “The Saxletes,” also performed holiday music in the lobby of the hospital, as well as for the patients on the pediatric and rehabilitation floors. Students then personally delivered the presents to the pediatric unit to brighten the days of those in the hospital during the holidays. The staff and patients alike look forward to their annual visit from Island Trees High School.
As the cold days of winter surround us and, we look forward to the warmer days of spring, the Island Trees Schools will be on the lookout for other ways to support our neighbors.
—Submitted by the United Teachers of Island Trees