An 88-Year Tradition of Loving Thy Dear Neighbor Without Distinction
The Academy of Holy Angels Christmas Basket Project will kick off at an all school Convocation on Thursday, December 5th. This annual effort is one of the oldest traditions in the 88-year history of AHA, taking its name from the decorated baskets that the young AHA students would bring to nearby families in need during the early years of the school. Many of the recipient families at that time were local farmers living near AHA. Being the time of the Great Depression, the students at AHA would spend the weeks before Christmas making homemade gifts and baking delicious holiday treats to bring to the families in need. Then, before the girls went home for their holiday break, they would walk to their sponsored family's home, make dinner, and share a meal with them as the family opened their gifts from the students.
This tradition has carried on in some way, shape, or form since 1932. Following the charism for the school's founders, the Sister of St. Joseph of Cardondelet, to “Love thy dear neighbor without distinction," AHA partners with Family Solutions, a local 501C3 non-profit agency, whose mission is to work with families in crisis and transition. The school's relationship with Family Solutions spans 25 years and faculty and staff considers program director, Inez Grace, an integral part of the AHA family.
The program is sponsored by the AHA Student Government. Each homeroom is assigned a family profile. The usual ratio is one family member per every three students in the homeroom. So, a homeroom of 15 students will get a family of 5. Students team together with their classmates and sponsor a family member. The average individual donation is $25 to $35. The students do the shopping and bring in the new and unwrapped gifts to their homeroom. It is essential that the receipts are included and handed directly to the homeroom teacher. (Gift receipts are perfect.)
Faculty and staff without a homeroom are teamed together and also provide for families. Last year, the AHA community sponsored 54 families and approximately 200 people and expects a similar amount for 2019.
Student Government funds (the proceeds from school dances) are used to provide each family with a gift card to the grocery store they named. In the amount of $15 per person in the family, the gift card is intended to assist in buying the holiday meal.
Student Government funds are also used to assist AHA students who are unable to provide money to the project. If an AHA family is in need, the student simply lets their homeroom teacher know, and money is provided to them to go shopping for the gift.
In addition to the students and staff at AHA, many times alumni and other community members contact us to sponsor a family.
The project will culminate at a community Christmas Basket Prayer Service on Thursday, December 19th in the school's gymnasium. During the service, the donated gifts will be blessed and presented to Family Solutions and its clients. (Pictured above are students bringing in their gifts at last year's service.)
Gregg Sawyer, advisor to the Student Government, spearheads this program. Any inquires may be directed to Mr. Sawyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.