Before heading home from school for the start of the winter break Dec. 18, many Wicomico students and staff took time to ensure a better holiday for families, students, homeless people, and even pets in the community.
Giving by Wicomico students, families, staff and schools brightened the holidays for many in Wicomico this year. Here is a sampling of the many special efforts and activities. Photos of some of the activities listed below are posted in the photo album “Memories of Holiday Giving and Fun from Wicomico Schools” at www.facebook.com/wcboe.
- Beaver Run Elementary enjoyed some wonderful “gifts” just before the holiday break. Toyota Corp. granted Beaver Run $1,500 to support social/emotional/educational programs provided for students of BRS and the Wicomico Early Learning Center. On the same day, all 28 classroom teachers received a 25-pound Yoobi box filled with school supplies thanks to the Kids in Need Foundation.
Students enjoyed listening and reading to the Polar Express story, with many enjoying the event in their pajamas. Students took part in a Holiday Hop to promote fitness through Fuel Up to Play 60, and received bottles of water and school supplies.
Beaver Run families received food from the school’s pantry partnership with the Maryland Food Bank. Ten families were given gifts and food through Santa’s Angels, and Peninsula Regional Medical Center provided gifts and food for three families which have 18 BRS students. Salisbury Jaycees took 15 students on a holiday shopping trip. Private donations enabled the school to help four more families in need of support.
- Salisbury Middle thanks its faith-based partner, First Baptist Church, for providing clothing for the school's Angel Tree students. Gratitude also goes out to St. Albans Episcopal Church, which donated items for the school's holiday shop and volunteered to gift wrap students' selections.
- It was a joyful and generous holiday season at Charles H. Chipman Elementary. Chipman was able to provide food and/or gifts to approximately 30 families with the support of Santa’s Angels, Jaycees, Salvation Army, Bethesda United Methodist Church (one of its faith-based partners), and the Salisbury Police Department (Cops for Kids). During the week before break, the PTA put on the Penguin Patch, with gifts priced at 25 cents to a dollar so children could shop for their families. And thanks to the school's school pantry partnership with the Maryland Food Bank, some 150 families were given food bags on Dec. 17 for the holiday break.
- At Westside Intermediate School, National Elementary Honor Society students had a canned food drive in the month of November, and collected 253 cans to donate to the Church of Nazarene. Honor Society students made enough holiday cards for every resident of the Salisbury Center: Genesis Eldercare home. Society members will sell candy hearts to raise money to send cookies to soldiers overseas. The Westside Intermediate Destination Imagination group collected food items for cats and dogs. On Christmas Eve, DI team members caroled for residents of Wicomico Nursing Home. In the Month of December, on a Saturday morning, staff participated in serving the community with 40 random acts of kindness. During the second week of December, staff volunteered to go caroling to homes around the school. Staff and parents helped buy gifts for the school’s Angel Tree, which supports Westside Intermediate children in need.
- For the past six years, Parkside High School has participated in the Macy’s Believe campaign, raising money by writing letters to Santa. These letters are delivered to the Believe Mailbox in the Centre at Salisbury. For each letter that is written Macy’s donates $1 to the Make a Wish Foundation to support fulfilling the wishes of young children with cancer. Over the years, Parkside students have, through writing letters to Santa, raised over $5,000 for our community.
Parkside faculty and staff supported three Parkside students and their siblings (a total of 11 children) during the holiday season, with a Secret Santa delivery on Dec. 16 that included gifts, tree, necessities, and a gift card for food. The Parkside Baseball Team participated in Operation Teddy Bear at the Holly Center on Dec. 5, an effort that extends back 10 years. Perdue Farms provides tractor trailers to take the residents for a ride in their trucks. It is a wonderful event and very rewarding for our players and the residents of the Holly Center. Parkside Football and National Honor Society also participated.
The Parkside Athletes as Readers and Leaders took a field trip to Willards Elementary and West Salisbury Elementary Dec. 15 to read winter-themed books and to talk with 2nd- and 3rd-grade students.
Parkside High School's Concert Choir, under the direction of Antoinette Daniel, brought the sounds of the season to the school system's main office on Northgate. The choir showed the great sound and energy that won it the $1,000 top prize in December’s Healthy Holidays Choral Competition, sponsored by The Daily Times and Peninsula Regional Medical Center.
- Bennett Middle School’s faith-based partner, Oak Ridge Baptist Church, provided Christmas gifts to BMS students (as well as Glen Avenue Elementary students) qualifying for Free and Reduced Meals if the family turned in a request form. More than 300 students received gifts. Bennett Middle participated in writing letters for the Macy’s Believe campaign to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation.
Bennett Middle’s National Junior Honor Society wrapped up a book drive just before the holiday break. The drive brought in 566 books that will be donated to the children’s wing at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
- The Holiday Helpers Committee of administrators, guidance, and teachers at Mardela Middle and High helped pull together assistance for 15 Mardela families over the holidays. A food drive was held at Food Lion, and donations were collected through staff casual days. Food was given out to families for Thanksgiving and the winter holiday break. Gifts were purchased from funds that were donated from the Uprising Church, Sharptown Women’s Auxillary, and the Mardela Junior Honor Society.
- North Salisbury Elementary’s 5th Grade Glee Club performed carols at the Deer’s Head Christmas party for residents on Dec. 17, under the direction of Mr. Armant. The students also delivered Teddy bears to the residents. Meanwhile, 3rd-grade students went caroling at several assisted living centers. The 4th Grade traditional students started a campaign to collect black and red ink pens to send to students in Nigeria with a staff members who was going to Africa over the holidays. NSS 4th grade magnet students, as part of a unit on economics, created handmade crafts to sell during a holiday program. All proceeds from the student sales went to HALO.
- Fruitland Intermediate partnered with local law enforcement to provide clothing, toys and other items to support less fortunate students during the holiday season. Mrs. Peggy Dickerson, guidance counselor, coordinated with FIS friends, families and others to purchase these items and donate them anonymously to families identified as especially in need of support. The National Elementary Honor Society partnered with HALO, a local support agency for the homeless, to provide paper goods and other supplies to men who are working to overcome desperate situations. Honor Society members encouraged classmates and staff to provide napkins and paper towels in a drive to collect these item for distribution during the week before the holiday break.
- Pinehurst Elementary faith-based partner Community of Joy provided gifts for 12 students. This is an annual gift they give to the school, and one of many provided throughout the year. The Salisbury Police Department provided gifts for three Pinehurst families. Pinehurst staff used an Angel Tree to “adopt” 50 of its students and provide them with gifts. Students took home a sack full of gifts to place under their own tree, and each child wrote a thank you to their Secret Santa. Seventeen Pinehurst students joined the Salisbury Jaycees Christmas shopping tour, on which they were able to pick out presents. “Santa’s Angels” provided gifts and a special meal on Christmas Eve day to five Pinehurst families.
Students in Lauren West’s classroom at Pinehurst made 100 cards and 100 snowman ornaments to give to a nursing home. Mrs. West's students were challenged by their classroom Elf on the Shelf, "Diamond", to demonstrate an "attitude of gratitude" this holiday season. Students were given the task of completing 100 holiday greeting cards and assembling 100 holiday snowman ornaments for local nursing homes in Wicomico County. This was no small task for Mrs. West's students in grades 1st through 3rd. They researched appropriate holiday greetings to include in their cards, counted and measured out materials, followed multi-step directions in order to assemble their cards and ornaments, and most importantly worked together as a team to complete their large task. The students were excited for their handiwork to be distributed this holiday season and looked forward to continuing their "attitude of gratitude" into the new year.
Students in Lindsey Saltzman’s 5th-Grade class at Pinehurst began a “Making a Difference” Project in which they must volunteer their time to help others sometime over the month around the holidays. Each student must dedicate some time to making a difference somehow, give evidence that they completed the project, and then write an essay about it.
- East Salisbury Elementary students who qualified for the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) incentive enjoyed shopping at the school’s Christmas store.
- Wicomico Middle School staff participated in several activities to assist school and community families this holiday season.Under the leadership of the school’s C.A.R.E.S. coordinator, the Wi Middle Angel Tree program provided gifts for 50 students and siblingsin need, and 50 Wicomico Middle families received a holiday food basket.The staff of Wi Middle supported casual days for the Angel Tree program as well as support for one of our faith-based partners, Parkway Church of God, to assist them in their community assistance programs. The National Junior Honor Society collected nonperishable food items on behalf of Parkway Church of God’s food pantry.
- The Department of Student and Family Services in the Central Office organized “It’s a Warm, Wonderful Winter,” a tree on which people could place hats, mittens, scarves, socks, jackets and gloves for donation to two local shelters. Student and Family Services even offered cider and cookies one afternoon to thank people who came to give. While the weather during the holiday week was warm without the aid of gloves and scarves, those donations are certainly needed now!
- Donations from teachers, administrators, and staff members of Wicomico County Public Schools to the annual WBOC Bless Our Children Campaign totaled $3,680, more than $300 over last year’s donation amount. This donation was part of WBOC’s announced best ever campaign of close to $250,000 raised for children in the Delmarva community.
- The school system’s Central Office had a longstanding tradition of helping families in need through a food drive and a holiday auction at which employees raised money by donating and buying goods and services. This year, working out of a new office location on Northgate Drive, the Central Office Social Committee organized a new holiday giving tradition. With the assistance of Student and Family Services and schools, six families (28 people) were chosen to receive Secret Santa holiday gifts and food. Staff members made monetary donations or selected gifts (clothes, toys, books, etc.) to bring in for their department’s designated family. Wrapped gifts and boxes of food were delivered to the six families from Wicomico County Public Schools in the week before the holiday.