St. Margaret’s School shows appreciation for community support
By Caroline K. Reff
Mattydale — On Jan. 28, many heads turned as groups of students from St. Margaret’s School in Mattydale paraded down Route 11 wearing “crazy hats” and bearing gifts for local businesses. This fun-filled adventure was part of the school’s “Hats Off to the Community Day,” an annual event during Catholic Schools Week where St. Margaret’s students thank local businesses for their generosity during the year. The 278 children in pre-K through grade six visited the local library, Roxboro Elementary School, Pizza Hut, Byrne Dairy and the Hollywood Theater, among others, to extend their appreciation.
“St. Margaret’s School is proud to be a part of the Mattydale community,” said Principal Kathleen Hanson. “So many of our local businesses donate products or services to support this school, and we are so appreciative. The students look forward to the opportunity to express that appreciation — and, of course, the hats are always a big hit!”
Interacting with the community isn’t a one-day affair at St. Margaret’s, however. Throughout the year, the school coordinates several fundraisers and special events that promote community unity and help the less fortunate in their midst.
During the Christmas season, students in all grades participated in Stuff-A-Stocking, a project where each class filled a giant stocking with toys and small treats for needy families living in the area. Students were encouraged to donate their own small change and help parents purchase the gift items. Stuffed stockings were distributed through the Human Development Office at St. Margaret’s Parish.
“This project helped our students gain a greater appreciation of the holidays through their own generosity,” explained Hanson. “They start to realize that every child doesn’t have what they may have. It teaches them to be appreciative — and generous, as well.”
The fourth graders at St. Margaret’s were particularly generous this year as they gave up their usual Christmas gift exchange and, instead, spent their gift money to make one particular needy family’s holiday a little brighter.
“We pitched in to bring presents to a family that is really poor,” said fourth grader Antonio Annesi. “We don’t mind giving up our own presents. A lot of kids don’t get anything, and it made us feel good to help another family.”
This winter, students also coordinated Operation Bundle-Up, a drive to collect news hats and mittens, as well as new and gently-used coats and snow pants, to benefit the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and St. Margaret’s own parishioners. The children and their families donated hundreds of hats and mittens and boxes of coats of every size.
“It’s really nice that we are doing all of this extra stuff, so other kids won’t be cold,” said sixth grader Nichole Pullano of the coat drive.
St. Margaret’s held other events during Catholic Schools Week to show its appreciation for the parish and the community. Students extended their thanks to parishioners with small, scrolled notes expressing their thanks for the parish’s ongoing support of the school. In addition, thank you notes were posted at the back of the church for all to see. The school also held a spaghetti dinner, open not only to the school and the parish, but also to all members of the Mattydale community.
“We are fortunate to be a part of this community, and we wouldn’t be the thriving school we are today without the help of our parish, local businesses and our neighbors who are always so ready to lend a hand and help to make our school great,” said Hanson. “We are educating young people who will someday make their own contribution to this community as adults. These projects are an extension of their education and help them appreciate their neighbors and be thankful for their support.”