Published in the December 23, 2015 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The season of giving is alive and well at Lynnfield Middle School.
The middle school cafeteria transformed into Santa’s Workshop on Dec. 18 when LMS hosted its annual holiday gift drive. The highly anticipated event was a huge success once again, as middle school students and their families donated over 1,000 gifts and gift cards to needy families.
LMS once again partnered with the Department of Children and Families’ Lynn office, which distributed the gifts to 10 needy families. There were so many gifts donated this year that DCF social workers had to load the gifts into a caravan of cars resembling Santa’s sleigh.
Sixth grade science teacher Patricia Hazelton organized the gift drive this year and was assisted by the Student Council. Hazelton worked with the Student Council, faculty members, parents and DCF social workers to keep tabs on every family’s needs and every child’s wish.
“I think it was very successful,” said Hazelton. “We are very grateful for the generosity of our school and the community as a whole.”
Middle School Assistant Principal Richele Shankland agreed.
“The gift drive was a wonderful success,” said Shankland. “All of our students, families and faculty donated a number of items to make sure needy families can have a wonderful Christmas. Patricia Hazelton’s did an amazing job organizing it. The Student Council did a great job serving as ambassadors to each of the families and made sure everyone got their gifts. They did a wonderful job.”
Students donated gifts large and small to children of all ages. Every child who received gifts had a wish list and students worked diligently to grant every child’s wish. Some of the “big-ticket” gifts children and teenagers wanted included iPods, bikes, boots and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones.
“There were some good gifts donated this year,” said Hazelton.
Hazelton said needy families also received supplies in addition to items included on wish lists.
“Every family got bedding, every family got a comforter and every kid got sheets,” said Hazelton. “Every kid got a coat and every family got a gift card to a supermarket to get food.”
Hazelton also noted Lynnfield High School students got involved with the LMS gift drive once again.
“The high school chipped in again this year with stocking stuffers,” said Hazelton. “It really made an impact.”
Hazelton also noted many teenagers asked for gift cards this year.
“A lot of the teenagers asked for gift cards because they like to do their own shopping,” said Hazelton. “Stores like American Eagle, Pink and GameStop were big this year.”
While Hazelton said over 1,000 gifts and gift cards were donated as part of this year’s gift drive, she said it’s difficult to determine exactly how many gifts were donated.
“To be honest, we lost count,” said Hazelton.
According to Hazelton, seventh and eighth graders took on a “bigger role” at this year’s gift drive.
“Seventh and eighth graders had a lot more responsibility,” said Hazelton. “They each oversaw an individual gift recipient. They made sure every child got everything on their list. They did a great job.”
Hazelton said close to 200 students participated in what Shankland dubbed the “giftwrapping extravaganza.” Hazelton said students signed up in groups and worked closely with LMS teachers and staff. Hazelton noted the social studies department did a “phenomenal job” advertising the gift drive, as social studies teachers “went out very morning at drop-off to make people aware of the gift drive.”
“Everybody in the building is involved,” Hazelton added. “Our phenomenal office staff were super helpful. They did the photocopying, gave out the gift cards and did some of the shopping. Our fifth grade teachers organized all of the wrapping groups and helped do all of the wrapping, and other teachers came in and helped the kids wrap. Every faculty member in this building has been phenomenal.”
Hazelton also thanked Shankland and Middle School Principal Stephen Ralston for their support.
“Our administrators have been very helpful supporting us,” said Hazelton.
DCF social worker Bob Comito thanked the LMS community for granting needy family’s wishes once again.
“It’s wonderful,” said Comito. “We have been working with Lynnfield for many years and they do wonderful work here. They go above and beyond for our kids. It’s a really nice thing for them to do.”
DCF social worker Brit Carlson agreed.
“The kids and their families did an awesome job,” said Carlson.
Hazelton thanked the LMS community for bending over backwards to help make the holiday season special for needy families.
“We have a community full of people who come through,” said Hazelton. “The generosity is remarkable.”