Errick Road Elementary School teachers Beatrice Arnone, Mary Ann Brier, Lori Godell, Nicole Pasceri and Lori Pruyn teach a unit on the holidays every year and ask the students if they want to help out less fortunate people in the area. The students and their families happily agreed to help out refugees who are new Western New York residents, many of whom had to flee their country with little more than the clothes on their backs. "My son is an English as a Second Language teacher and works with the refugees," Pruyn said. "After he brought it to our attention that many of them were not prepared for our harsh winters and had little or no possessions of their own, we started working with Jewish Family Services. They provided us with names, ages and genders so we could put together care packages for them."
"This has been a great year," Pruyn said. "We have just gotten piles and piles of clothes and toys. The students have really taken ownership of this project and could not wait to come in every day with their donations." The donations have been so plentiful the classes have already started to put aside items for next year's families.
To add a holiday feel to their offerings, students spent a day decorating the gift boxes with drawings, cutouts and glitter.
"We are so impressed how the students and their parents embraced this project," Pruyn said. "Many of these refugees come from Somalia, Burma, Nepal and various Islamic countries and have literally nothing. We want to thank the Niagara-Wheatfield Teachers Association for their generous donation of $300, and one of my former students whose Girl Scout group donated the proceeds from their walkathon. We especially want to thank the moms that came in and helped the students to wrap. It was very kind of all them and will definitely make the holiday season a more pleasant and happier time for the families."