Epping Elementary School shows spirit of giving
- Jacob Loving of Epping Elementary School Honor Society holds one of five boxes of pajamas his group collected and distributed to Families in Transition during an assembly Tuesday. Photo by Deb Cram/Seacoastonline
Posted Dec. 26, 2014 @ 2:01 am
Jacob Loving of Epping Elementary School Honor Society holds one of five boxes of pajamas his group collected and distributed to Families in Transition during an assembly Tuesday. Photo by Deb Cram/Seacoastonline
Posted Dec. 26, 2014 @ 2:01 am
EPPING – As kindergarten teacher Julia Masury beckoned, a small boy came forward holding a plastic bag sagging with cash. Karen Drapaniotis, chairman of the Chamber Children’s Fund, did a double-take.
“That,” she said, “is a lot of mittens.”
Epping Elementary School showed its spirit of giving Tuesday afternoon when it wrapped up two holiday fundraising efforts. The student body raised money for the Chamber Children’s Fund and also presented representatives of Families In Transition with five boxes of new pajamas for children in its program.
The school chorus waited onstage as the other students in the K-5 school filed into the gym. Many of the younger children wore their own warm flannel PJs in honor of the drive. Teachers, paraprofessionals and room mothers in holiday sweaters helped to keep order.
Principal Mark Vallone welcomed the crowd to a “very special assembly.”
“Before a long-deserved vacation, we are going to give back to the community,” he said.
In the first segment, the EES Student Council, led by President Dylan Comeau, presented Drapaniotis and fellow committee member Chris Soutter with an oversized check for $250 raised by the student body.
“That’s a lot of money, it’s amazing,” Dylan said.
But there was more, as Masury led her kindergarten class to the front.
“The kindergarten also wanted to help out, and we raised our money through doing chores,” Masury said. “They did extra jobs around the house to earn money, and they raised $119.24.”
With some quick mental math, Vallone announced that the total raised by Epping students for the Chamber Children’s Fund was $369.24.
“We want to thank you very much,” Drapaniotis said. “It’s always a pleasure to come here, and to see you children so well-behaved.”
The need is there, Drapaniotis said, explaining that the Children’s Fund distributes vouchers to area families to purchase warm outer clothing and accessories for a New England winter. In addition, she said, funds are given to the school nurse at each of the Chamber’s 10 towns, so that she or he can use the money at their discretion for children who “fall through the cracks.” This year, $14,000 was raised and distributed among nurses in the coverage area of Exeter, Brentwood, East Kingston, Newfields, Stratham, Kensington, Epping, Raymond and Kingston.
“The nurse can notice if a kid in gym class has worn-out sneakers,” Soutter said. “She can go out and buy them.”
Drapaniotis said the committee calls the winter drive its “Kids Helping Kids” campaign.
“It’s heartwarming to see how generous children can be,” she said.
Epping is one of the Fund’s larger “recipient” communities, but also one of the stalwarts for giving, Drapaniotis observed.
“Many of these kids are ‘our’ kids, but they don’t know it,” she said.
The second organization to benefit from Epping’s generosity was Families In Transition, the Manchester transitional housing for homeless families. The National Elementary Honor Society presented the donation and FIT staff members Emily Melhorn and Jeff Bartel accepted the five boxes brimming with colorful new pajamas.
“I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to wear my pajamas,” Melhorn said jokingly.
She accepted the gift on behalf of Families In Transition CEO Maureen Beauregard, whom she said was a native of Epping.
A mini-concert by the school chorus and band followed the two presentations. As their schoolmates belted out carols, Honor Society members reflected on what it means to give. President Michael Picard said the pajama drive was a new initiative, suggested by one of their advisers, after a successful fall campaign to collect stocking stuffers for servicepeople.
They advertised the drive by putting signs on boxes under the school Christmas tree in the lobby, posting a sign outside the building, “and my Mom put it on Facebook,” Picard said.
“It feels good to help people in need,” member Jade Gagnon said.
“We have so much,” Picard said.
Fellow member Jacob Loving said, “I have a lot of pajamas, and I use them. My mom bought several pairs of pajamas just for this.”
“It feels good to know someone will go to bed warm,” member Jessica Galante said.
The group also decorated and delivered holiday cookies to the Epping Police and Fire Departments, and they will be back in form in January.
“We’re going to get together with the Student Council and talk about our Pennies for Patients drive,” Picard said. “We raised $2,400 last year.”
And as the chorus concluded its version of “Let It Go,” Assistant Principal Erin Milbury said she was proud of her students.
“It’s amazing how aware kids are about helping others,” she said. “It’s part of a sense of community. Our kids get really excited about it.”