SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — During the holidays, we are all reminded to be generous and kind to others. We remember to think of those in need and help others whenever we can. For the students of Theresa Stopek and Ramona Kendzerski at Lakeside High School, the season of giving lasts all year long. Her students are always willing to lend a helping hand at Lakeside; they collect recyclables from the cafeteria and the classrooms and help out busy teachers by making copies and laminating documents. They also run the school store, the Dragon’s Den, where the students sell beverages, snacks and a variety of school supplies. When the students are not busy helping others, they enjoy baking and making crafts.
The students are especially excited at this time of year to showcase their work at Lakeside’s sixth annual craft fair. At the craft fair, the students sell various items from knitted hats to baked goods. Some of the items are made by the students while others are consigned by local vendors and churches. The fair, which the students have spent several weeks preparing for, is set up in Mrs. Stopek’s classroom. After signing in with the office, customers are free to look around and talk with the students. When a potential customer strolls in, the students are always friendly and happy to answer any questions.
The class receives 15 percent of the proceeds generated by the sale. The money earned is put toward a special reward for the students — a Christmas shopping trip. Once the craft fair is over, Mrs. Stopek and Mrs. Kendzerski take the students to the Ashtabula Towne Square and help them select Christmas presents for their parents and siblings. One student, Dakota Deary, said that his favorite part of the craft fair was shopping for his family afterwards. The students are excited to surprise their relatives with gifts on Christmas Day.
The craft fair is rewarding for the students not only because they have the opportunity to buy presents, but also because they learn valuable skills.
“The students learn to work with customers, handle money and make receipts,” said Stopek.
They also get the chance to do what they love – baking! Justin Kreais, a junior, has been baking for the craft fair since his freshman year. He said that his class is taking cookie orders until Friday.
“We have sugar cookies, coconut cookies, peanut butter blossoms, lemon bars and dark chocolate drops,” Kreais said. Kreais and his classmates have entered several baking contests over the last few years, often taking first prize.
This group of students reminds us what the holidays are all about. They give the gift of kindness every single day, no matter what the season. They sacrifice their own time to help teachers and students. These students put hard work into this craft fair every year, not because they want money, but because they want to give to others. As we rush through the hectic holidays, we should keep these students in mind. After all, they are the epitome of kindness and generosity; a prime example of what we should all strive to be.