Holidays are generally a festive time with celebratory meals, gifts and days at home. But for many families in neighboring towns, the season causes intense stress and accents what they don’t have — food, a home, basic toiletries, and warm clothes.
Last month, fifth grade students from Samuel Staples Elementary School met with representatives from Alpha Community Services, a non-profit organization in Bridgeport that provides transitional and permanent supportive housing in Fairfield, to discuss the plight of local poverty.
After the presentation, the students decided to partner with Alpha Community Services and assist those in need.
The Student Senate rallied the school’s 624 students — from pre-K to fifth grade — to donate hundreds of toiletry items, blankets, clothes and home supplies for Alpha’s temporary shelters, according to Joe Clark, a member of its board of managers and a fifth Grade math and science teacher at the school.
Mr. Clark helped the students to organize the drive.
Before the holiday break, the fifth-grade volunteers packed 25 large cardboard boxes full of the donated goods. Mr. Clark, along with fifth-grade teacher Helen Simmons, loaded the boxes into their cars and delivered the items to Alpha Community Services just in time for the holidays.
“Unfortunately, a record number of families came to ACS this year in need of help,” said Mr. Clark. “Many of these families and individuals were living in their cars or on the streets before they received ACS’s help. The work of the fifth grade Senate eased the difficult lives of those in need during the holidays.”
“The students realize the importance of helping out their neighbors during times of need,” according to Principal Kimberly Fox-Santora. She recounted that in the fall, students created “goody” bags for children in the Alpha Community Services shelters. This spring, the school will sponsor “Alpha Walk” with students, staff and parents walking to raise money for Alpha’s mission.
Under the guidance of Mr. Clark and Ms. Fox-Santora the children will continue to support Alpha Community Services and its work to create a sense of community, hope and a safe place for growing population of homeless men, women and children.
Last year, Alpha Community Services, which is affiliated with the YMCA, gave 892 individuals, including more than 400 children, a sense of community and a place to belong.