On November 29, more than 500 students from Saint Simon Parish School in Los Altos worked together to assemble holiday grocery bags, which will be distributed to needy families as part of a school-wide service project. Students from first through eighth grades worked together to decorate the bags with Santa Claus faces and Christmas trees before stuffing them with holiday cards, non-perishable food, and seasonal treats.
For the past ten years, Saint Simon has partnered with the Kinship Center, a nonprofit agency that supports needy families to create safe, sustainable homes for children. This year, the students assembled more than 80 bags of food, which eighth grade students will give to families at their Kinship Dinner, a yearly holiday party that they host for children and their parents.
“Saint Simon Parish school began its relationship with Kinship Center in 2007,” said Vice Principal Michelle Nealon. “Over time, our support grew from simply filling Christmas stockings to now hosting a full Christmas dinner with crafts, food bags, raffles, and stockings.”
During the assembly, eighth grade students led their school “families,” which include one student from every grade, through the process of decorating bags, collecting enough food to fill them up, and writing encouraging Christmas messages to the children and families who will receive the bags.
“Decorating the bags of food for the Kinship families is a great way to get to know students in other grades, while also doing something helpful for those in need,” said eighth-grade student Riley Simonsen. “I loved the environment in the gym during our service project. Everyone was smiling because we all knew that our work would go towards something great.”
The hands-on service is done entirely by students, but teachers work behind the scenes to ensure that the project goes smoothly. Amidst all of the preparation is a valuable experience for students, who learn the importance of serving others who are less fortunate.
“One of the most rewarding moments working in a Catholic School is the sense of community and coming together with love,” said Becky Van Meter, the sixth-grade teacher who coordinates the food collection efforts for the entire school. “It is such a joy to see all the students involved in an effort to feed the less fortunate.”
At a school, a gym is always more than a gym: It adapts for parties, events, rallies, and more. On this particular Wednesday, Saint Simon’s gym was the heart of service, with hundreds of students engaged in work that will truly improve the lives of those who received grocery bags this holiday season.