Published in the December 28, 2016 edition

CLASSMATES, from left, Elizabeth Schmidt, Anna Kaminski and Lily Conway show off wrapped presents during Lynnfield Middle School’s annual holiday gift drive Dec. 20. The LMS community donated around 1,500 gifts to needy families this year. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

CLASSMATES, from left, Elizabeth Schmidt, Anna Kaminski and Lily Conway show off wrapped presents during Lynnfield Middle School’s annual holiday gift drive Dec. 20. The LMS community donated around 1,500 gifts to needy families this year. (Dan Tomasello Photo)


LYNNFIELD — Lynnfield Middle School’s cafeteria was transformed into Santa’s Workshop during the annual holiday gift drive Dec. 20.

The gift drive has become one of the middle school’s most highly anticipated events and was a huge success once again. Middle school students and their families donated around 1,500 gifts to needy families.

The middle school partnered with the Department of Children and Families’ Lynn office, which distributed the gifts to families in need. Similar to previous years, a caravan of vehicles driven by DCF social workers was needed to load and deliver the gifts.

The outpouring of support the middle school received during the gift drive amazed gift drive organizer Patricia Hazelton.

“I am overwhelmed by the generosity of our whole community,” said Hazelton, who teaches fifth grade at LMS. “It’s nice everyone worked together to help a great cause. It’s remarkable. Just remarkable.”

Middle School Principal Stephen Ralston agreed.

“It’s remarkable how each year seems to be as great if not greater than the year before,” said Ralston. “Hats off to our student, faculty and parent community elves who not only helped out but did a lot of the preparation work. It really touches everybody and everyone who worked together to pull this off.”

The LMS community 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.

Hazelton noted groups of students came together to purchase some “big ticket” items that were requested.

“There were seventh graders who collected funds to get a TV,” said Hazelton. “There were fifth and seventh graders who collected funds to get an XBox. We had a lot of requests for bikes this year, and we had parents who bought bicycles. A lot of kids wanted tablets this year, so we were able to do that.”

According to Hazelton, some of the most popular gifts this year included basketballs, books, games, Nerf guns and headphones. She also said “gift cards were really big this year.”

“We had a lot of gift cards donated so teens could pick out their own clothing,” said Hazelton. “It was wonderful to see anyone who asked for a gift card receive one.”

Hazelton noted, “Every family and every child got a stocking that the high school put together.”

In addition to gifts, the middle school community donated a lot of necessities during the gift drive.

“Every family got at least one set of sheets for every child and the caregivers,” said Hazelton. “Every child got a coat, hat and gloves. Hygiene products were in demand this year, so everybody got hygiene products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo. Every family received gift cards for food.”

According to Hazelton, pots, pans and cleaning products were “big this year.” She noted one family even requested MBTA bus passes.

Hazelton said the middle school community’s generosity is truly amazing.

“I panic a little bit every year and think it won’t be what it was last year and every year is better,” said Hazelton. “It’s just wonderful to see a really caring community, and it’s not just our school. A couple of the moms in town who have little ones got together and sponsored a family and the high school did the stockings. It really is a community-wide effort.”

In addition to middle school students and staff participating in the annual gift-wrapping celebration, school officials including High School Principal Bob Cleary, High School Assistant Principal Brian Bates, Huckleberry Hill School Principal Brian Bemiss, Special Services Director Kara Mauro and Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay joined in the fun.

“This is such a beautiful tribute to the caliber of students that we have at the Lynnfield Middle School and the caliber of professionals we have working here as well,” said Tremblay. “This is what community truly is and this is what our community is made up of. It is a giving, caring and loving community, and that was so obvious in the Lynnfield Middle School cafeteria. I have never been more proud of the middle school’s faculty, staff and students than I am today.”

DCF social worker Bob Comito thanked the LMS community for making holiday wishes come true once again.

“It’s wonderful,” said Comito. “We get lots of donations from all types of agencies and groups, and Lynnfield Middle School is the most generous out of all of them. It is really wonderful how much they give.”

DCF social worker Britt Scoglio echoed Comito’s sentiment.

“It’s great,” said Scoglio. “We have a lot of families in need and Lynnfield always steps up to the plate to help the less fortunate.”

Hazelton thanked all of the parents who volunteered and helped make the LMS gift drive a huge success once again.

“It’s nice to see a lot of new parent volunteers,” said Hazelton. “Some of the parents have been coming for almost 13 years. Their kids are in college now but they are still helping out. It’s nice to see the fifth graders’ parents coming and getting involved and that is important to keep things going.”