Dec. 19, 2017
Boyce students brighten the holidays for many
Creating opportunities for students to demonstrate care and concern for others is an important aspect of the educational program at Boyce Middle School. Winter months are especially meaningful as students help to ensure a brighter holiday season for those in need.
“Community service projects are important because they teach our students the meaning of giving to people who are less fortunate than us,” Vicki Cayuela, school counselor, said. “Often our students are not aware that there is need for help both within and outside of our community. They learn that they can have a positive impact on the lives of others.”
A Boyce annual tradition spanning more than 20 years is the Friendship Shoebox project, organized by school counselors Amy Antonio and Mrs. Cayuela. Each of the school’s 645 students is asked to fill a shoebox with small gifts to brighten the holidays for another child.
“This project is particularly meaningful for our fifth and sixth grade students because it might be one of the first times that they are directly impacting another child's life in a positive way that is important to them,” Mrs. Cayuela said. “Most of the children who get our friendship shoeboxes do not get another gift during the holidays. Our students know that because of their generosity they are making another child happy.”
Suggestions for filling the shoebox include small toys or games, books or activities, personal hygiene items, school and craft supplies, and a treat such as gum, lollipops or candy. The giftwrapped shoeboxes are then delivered to children in Washington County through Northwestern Human Services.
Getting the mountain of festive boxes from the guidance classroom to the awaiting delivery truck is a feat in itself. One-by-one the boxes leave the guidance classroom through a Friendship Shoebox Chain – passing from one student to the next down the hall, out the door and into the delivery truck.
“The reason that we form the human chain is that it gives all of our students the opportunity to participate in this project,” Mrs. Cayuela said. “Some of our students are not able to make a gift for another child due to their personal situations. They participate in the passing of the boxes just like any student who made a box.”
In addition to the Friendship Shoebox project, Boyce Middle School Student Council recently collected nearly 300 boxes of cereal to benefit the South Hills Interfaith Movement, which provides food, clothing and services to people in need in Pittsburgh’s southern suburban neighborhoods.
Ultimately, school counselors and others hope that these community service projects help to instill empathy and a willingness to lend a hand to those in need.
“I hope that they gain fulfillment by being compassionate,” Mrs. Cayuela added.