ELIZABETHTOWN — The Secret Santa Society here is already hard at work.
Headed by Sarah Rice and Kaitlin Fielder, the program at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School aims to provide joy to teens there who are not covered by other programs.
Helping out the real Santa Claus, of course.
“We have been running this program for two years,” said Rice, a high-school English teacher, in an email.
“Essentially, teachers and staff have picked up where Essex County Toys for Kids has left off for our student body.”
In the past, Toys for Kids supplied toys, games, clothing and other gifts to underprivileged kids in grades kindergarten through 12.
But two years ago, due to financial constraints, the organization could no longer provide for such a vast number of children. Efforts now only cover grades kindergarten through six.
“Through the Secret Santa Society, our faculty/staff have sponsored the remaining low-income students in grades seven through 12,” Rice said.
“We need help to sustain this important program.”
Last year, donations of almost $800 along with contributions of new gifts enhanced Christmas for more than 60 students, she said.
“We are giving to our community.”
And she hopes the community will pitch in as a collective “secret Santa” this year.
“With the financial situation, we find ourselves less able to support as much as we would like within the school,” Rice said. “Some staff members had been supporting five or six kids.
“There are over 50 students that we would like to help, which is a hefty percentage of the high-school population,” explained Fielder, a high-school science teacher.
Rice said the program is pretty pricey, (but) the benefit is obvious.
“The students wear the new clothing on a daily basis, and the backpacks provided carry their textbooks.
“We see school supplies being used in the classroom, and conversations at lunch are of their new toys,” she continued.