GROTON — “Have you ever gotten a present that you absolutely love? Wouldn’t you want to give that special feeling to another child?” seventh-grader Travis Anctil asked classmates at the kickoff assembly for Project Mitten on Friday, Dec. 9.
Organized by the Groton-Dunstable Regional Middle School Student Council and Principal Steven Silverman, Project Mitten is an annual fundraiser that supports the Community Children’s Fund.
The Community Children’s Fund, managed by Karen Tuomi, commissioner of Trust Funds, provides school supplies, sports and camp programs, after-school activities and scholarships to school programs for Groton and Dunstable families with school-age children.
Led by the Student Council, the entire middle school is involved with the project during December to raise money for those in need during the holiday season. The fundraiser was started 11 years ago by teacher Melissa Walts as a community-service project.
According to Silverman, last year students, teachers and parents raised more than $9,000.
“It epitomizes the entire season — Project Mitten is all about kids helping other kids get through rough times, it’s truly what the holiday is all about,” said Tuomi.
“Project Mitten teaches students the necessity of helping others in times of need, it goes perfect with the holiday season and kids learn from working collectively as a school,” Silverman added.
Classrooms organize various activities for students to participate in to raise funds, such as hat day, read-a-thon, turkey trot and teachers teaching different subjects. Raffle baskets were displayed during parent-teacher conferences last month.
The assembly began with Student Council members reading aloud The Mitten by Jan Brett, with the illustrated book projected on a large screen.
The story, based on a Ukranian folk tale, is about what can happen when there isn’t enough of something to go around. A boy, Nicki, begs his Baba (grandmother) to knit him a pair of white mittens, which she does but warns that he will lose them and they will be hard to find in the snow.
As the tale goes, Nicki drops one and it is discovered by a mole thinking it would make a good home, as does a rabbit, hedgehog, owl, badger, fox, bear and finally, a mouse. The inhabits protest that there’s not enough room for each newcomer, but the mitten stretches surprising. Nicki’s search for the lost mitten stirs the animals and the mouse causes the bear to sneeze. The mitten with all its occupants goes flying and Nicki catches it.
Tuomi thanked students for their participation and donations. She shared how the program started nearly 20 years ago. Families were in need of help during the holidays and when it was brought to the attention of the commissioner of trust, the Town Hall Santa Fund was established to help buy presents, food and decorations.
It soon became apparent that the fund would be used all year long for summer camps, summer school, field trips, scholarships for the eighth-grade Washington trip and drivers education.