The special education students in Warwick Veterans Memorial High School’s Alternative Learning Program, with help from the Foundations and Focus programs, hosted a school-wide holiday toy drive and celebrated their success with a special breakfast last Friday.
Leah Hazelwood, teacher assistant in ALP, explained she really wanted to come up with a community service project for her students to celebrate the holiday season. She learned about the need for toys for the holidays at Reaching for the Fringe ministry in Providence and decided it would be a good opportunity.
“It started as a toy drive for the faculty and staff,” said Hazelwood, explaining that her students originally went to all of the teachers and staff at the school asking for toys or monetary donations so they could buy toys for the drive.
Then other students began to hear about the toy drive and wanted to participate, so it was opened up to the entire school. In only two weeks, the ALP, Focus and Foundations students were able to collect 70 toys for the donation.
“We did a good job shopping,” said Nicolette Salvaggio, a student in the program who helped to pick out gifts for teenagers using the money the group raised. “Picking out stuff was fun.”
As a thank you, the ALP students hosted a continental breakfast for the faculty, staff and students who donated to the cause. If a person gave a toy or money to the cause, they received a ticket and were welcome to stop by the ALP classroom for coffee, juice, muffins, yogurt and other small breakfast items.
Reverends Doug and Deb Rushworth from Reaching for the Fringe stopped by the breakfast to thank the students and faculty for all their help.
The ministry provides food and clothing to those in need. This is the second year they have held a toy drive for their holiday dinner, which took place last night. It was the donation from Warwick Vets that ensured every child who attended the dinner would leave with a toy.
“We live on donations. They helped a lot. We would have had to say no to a lot of kids,” said Doug.
“They helped us a lot,” said Deb, who explained that she was worried while wrapping the gifts last week that they would not have enough. Then the delivery from Warwick Vets came. “If Vets didn’t come though, we would have had to say no to so many kids.”
Hazelwood is already looking to next year; based on the success of this year’s event and how much the students enjoyed the project, she predicts they will be able to do even more next year. “We should start right after Thanksgiving next year,” said Hazelwood.