GB community goes big with holiday giving

  • All across the General Brown Central School District, members of the school community have been generously doling out holiday happiness to young and old alike, with the spirit of giving taking many forms.

    Helping feed those in need

    In one big, collective show of generosity, students and staff at the Junior-Senior High School contributed about 2,500 non-perishable food items to be donated to the Brownville Lions Club, an effort the school district has helped with for more than 10 years.

    As an incentive for students to bring in items, the Student Council (advised by high school teachers Brian Nortz and Michelle Lamon) offered a prize of a providing a special breakfast for the class that contributed the most. This year, the freshmen class handily won, bringing in about half of the total. The seventh-grade and eighth-grade classes were second and third, respectively.

    Sixth-graders also have been bringing in food items. To support Need 2 Feed organization, students have been bringing in goods for Christmas Dinners to be distributed to families in need in the Brownville community. This is the third year that sixth-grade classes have supported Need 2 Feed.

    High school students in Jolie Rose’s math classes brought in non-perishable food items for yet another cause. Their donations went to the district’s Backpack Club, which distributes food to General Brown families in need throughout the school year.

    Jeans Day benefits gift card drive

    Staff members were invited to participate in a districtwide Jeans Day fundraiser to raise money toward the gift-card drives at each of the schools. For a contribution of $5, staff members could wear jeans to work on Friday, Dec. 3. A total of $624 was raised and distributed equally among the three buildings.

    At the elementary schools, more than 50 gift cards were purchased with the Jeans Day money and contributions from General Brown families. Recipients of the gift cards included children who receive food through the district’s Backpack Program and others whom staff members identified as in need this holiday season. The gift cards were mailed home this week tucked inside Christmas cards, giving families some time to shop using the gift cards before Christmas.

    At the Junior-Senior High School, the gift cards purchased with the Jeans Day funds are distributed to students as a Secret Santa giveaway. Names are drawn from the entire student population in grades 7-12.

    Giving the gift of warmth

    Student members of FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) along with some of club advisor Hannah Cottrell's middle school students have made more than 60 fleece blankets to be given to those in need this holiday season.

    Many of the blankets were being delivered to the children in the General Brown CSD Angel Tree program, while others were headed for Lafargeville CSD for their Angel Tree program and to Habitat for Humanity.

    The materials for the blankets were donated by families and members of FCCLA, as well as Jo-Ann Fabrics of Watertown and the Agape Shop Thrift Shop. 

    FCCLA members Kaylee Fields and Carrie Calhoun spearheaded the efforts. The chapter met on Thursdays after school to work on the blanket kits, and some students took kits home to complete. The chapter also hosted a blanket making day on Nov. 6.

    According to Cottrell, the blanket project was aimed at brightening the school community. “We felt that the children in need deserved a present to open and also one that has a purpose,” she said. 

    In addition to Fields and Calhoun, FCCLA members include Maddy Paquette, McKenna Lee, Emily Allen, Katie Rastley, Charlize West, Bailey Parks, Jenna Eads, Abby Fields, Riley Cornell, Ally Duncan, Mercedes Fonzi, Olivia Monica, Marley Stein, Olivia Riley, Morgan Mentry, Joel Trimper, and Olivia Kirch.

    Other students who assisted with the project were Mileigh Gunn, Dylan Price, Dedrie King and Gabe Wright.

    Bringing cheer to seniors, veterans

    FCCLA also joined forces with the National Honor Society, advised by Ellen Sheen, to stuff 78 stockings to be delivered to senior citizens throughout the county. The two groups at the Junior-Senior High School have worked in conjunction the past 3 years to complete this community service project. The students collected items to fill the stockings over two weeks prior to the stocking-stuffing day Dec. 13.

    Fifth-graders at Brownville-Glen Park Elementary also wanted to help bring joy to area senior citizens. They brought in over 300 items to put together 40 stockings filled with toiletries, games, goodies and more. The stockings were being delivered with the help of Community Bank to assisted living and senior apartments in Dexter, Brownville and Watertown.

    Third-graders in Kelsey Tibbles’ and Kelly Cantwell’s class at Brownville-Glen Park Elementary made Christmas ornaments for senior citizens living in Jefferson County nursing homes. The 20 students constructed 50 ornaments — 25 snowmen and 25 Christmas trees — from classroom materials, including pipe cleaners, glitter, glue, paint and craft popsicle sticks.

    “My class wanted to spread some cheer, generosity, kindness and happiness this holiday season through giving,” Tibbles said, adding that senior citizens sometimes do not have family to celebrate the holidays with, and they deserve the most love.”

    Teacher Kathryn Keenan’s first-graders created Christmas cards for veterans in hopes of bringing some holiday cheer to veterans who might not otherwise receive cards this holiday season. The cards were mailed to the veterans hospital in Syracuse.

    Animals need love, too

    Humans are not the only beneficiaries of the General Brown holiday giving spirit. Fourth-graders have been collecting items to donate to the SPCA. According to teacher Ayesha Hunt, instead of a gift exchange with each other, students are bringing in donations that will be delivered to the SPCA just before Christmas break.

    Newspaper sales benefit Salvation Army

    As part of the annual Watertown Daily Times Old Newsboys Day, students, faculty and staff purchased donated copies of the newspaper for prices ranging from the usual cover price to hundreds of dollars, with proceeds benefiting the local Salvation Army. The money raised, which was about $200 at GBCSD, goes toward helping to provide needy families with food, toys and clothing at Christmas, along with supporting some of the organization’s programs and services throughout the year.