The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

School Columnists

December 26, 2013

Christmas is a season for giving and learning

SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — With the holiday season in full swing, students and faculty at Lakeside High School are experiencing the benefits of giving. The numerous charity organizations at work account for endless amounts of items donated to those in need. Whether they be nationally recognized or originally conceived, these programs succeed in not only helping those in need, but also granting students the ability to contribute selflessly.

One of the most prominent means of giving is through the HALO project, run by Catholic Charities, and carried out by Spanish teacher, Joyce Hignite. This program involves taking on needy families and granting them what they require most this winter.

Hignite, who has been providing this charity for more than 15 years, said, “I wanted to help some of the needy families who didn’t have enough for their children at Christmastime.”

She primarily selects Hispanic families to assist because she knows she will be able to communicate with them efficiently where others may not. She then distributes the information to her classes, and they choose what to donate. Hignite receives gift cards, money, food, clothing and toys from her students, as well as numerous volunteers to deliver the packages. Hignite said that the families are extremely grateful for the charity from herself and her students.

“We usually receive thank-you cards, but this year, a woman even baked us a cake,” Hignite said.

Another outstanding charitable program at Lakeside is the annual holiday craft fair put on by Teresa Stopek and Ramona Kendzerski. This is the seventh year that their Functional Life Skills students sell a diverse amount of items, including scarves, ornaments and trinkets, which they receive from several places around the community, including parents and churches. The students also bake all of the cookies for sale, which anyone can sample, and order by the dozens.

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