Charity drives take on new meaning this year for UCS students and staff
Charity drives take on new meaning this year for UCS students and staff
Posted on 12/11/2020
Compilation of PhotosJust as Utica Community Schools staff and students have reimagined education in a remote environment, so to have changes been made for the annual tradition of holiday charity drives.

At Havel Elementary, a “family effort” was launched where family members could put donated toys in a bin outside the school. To date, more than 500 toys have been donated by the community. 

“We recognized there was a great need for support right now and a lot of organizations that hold food, clothes or toy drives weren’t able to host them due to COVID-19 restrictions,” said organizer, first-grade teacher Michelle Gudding. “We just put it out there to remind people that there are so many incredible organizations out there worth your attention and effort. Helping to brighten a dark season for many is healing in ways unimaginable.”

Through the district, schools have been finding creative and safe ways to give back to their community during the time of a pandemic. 

At Stevenson High School, students in Key Club have found new ways to meet its club’s mission of service. 
“The pandemic has limited our options for what service projects Key Club can do, but we're pretty creative,” said member Rohit Ray. “Since we can't do group service projects in-person due to social distancing, we figured that the best ways that we could contribute to our community would be through donation drives (hygiene and canned food drives), cardmaking, and individually impacting our communities by helping neighbors.”

Eppler Junior High School has started a Friends Helping Families, where community members are donating gift cards to donate and bring to the school. 

“We have determined that we still want to be a benevolent group, and would like to focus on our families in need right here at Eppler,” said Principal Jerry Pantano. “I know, yes, I absolutely know, how caring and generous this community is, and know we can, together, make a difference!!

Gudding said the drives are taking on an even larger meaning. 

“Kids have been warriors during this season,” she said “To be able to help alleviate some of the worry for families, to provide their child with a new toy, is just doing our part of the part to take care of one another.”