TOWNSEND — “When you’re doing good, good comes,” Ray Kane said. “The other day someone handed us a $100 bill.”
It’s going to take a lot more than $100 for the New Orleans Service Learning Group to accomplish its yearly December mission — supplying the wants and needs of more than 300 needy children while working to benefit the local, regional and world community.
Kane is the faculty advisor for the student group.
Raising the money and enlisting supporters is a huge challenge.
Each child will get up to five presents. Some will be needed things, like socks and underwear. Others will be something the child wants, maybe even a bicycle.
The team goes through the requests they get from LUK, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and from local families. They make ornaments with individual requests for its giving tree, ending up with more than 1,500 gifts to secure.
When a member of the North Middlesex Regional High School community takes an ornament, that person purchases the gift on the tag.
Nu Nu Laphai, a junior from Townsend, got a jolt when she saw the tag she selected. That family needed a baby stroller, not an item that most high school students can afford.
The new member of the service club took to social media and asked for help on Facebook. She got it, and the carriage is purchased.
The Nissitissit Middle School is helping out this year. Students took 200 ornaments for the giving tree in their school this year, said Danielle Crouse, a Pepperell senior.
The service club also needs money. It uses cash to purchase gifts for tags that were not chosen, for food baskets and fuel assistance.
In another first, the students approached businesses for additional support, said Carly Dillis, a senior from Townsend. Students found it challenging to ask for money.
Most of the fundraising events through the year are more hands-on. Among other efforts, the group ran lawn parties during band concerts in Townsend and Pepperell.
The students also found a way to benefit the local, regional and world communities through gift-buying.
The service learning club will receive 40 percent of the profits on presents purchased from Equal Exchange through the end of December. In addition to bringing money to the local program, the business in Watertown will benefit and the farmers and crafters from around the world who supply the products will generate more income.
Not only do the gifts do good, they are good. Liz Palmer, a Pepperell junior, purchased most of her Christmas presents through the site last year. People loved them, she said.
The Giving Tree season comes to an end on Dec. 13 at 9 a.m. when sorting day commences. Students and volunteers will spend the day wrapping, sorting and running out to buy more gifts, because there are always some tags that were not taken from the Giving Tree.
Volunteers from the school and community are welcome to help for all or part of the day, Kane said. Breakfast and lunch will be supplied.
The organizers expect to see other clubs and school groups that day. It will be fun, even if a bit hectic.
Evelyn Toppi, a junior from Pepperell, first went to sorting day as a freshman and formed bonds with students she did not know before.
“Once I started wrapping presents, everyone was really nice,” she said.
“It’s my favorite day,” Palmer said.
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