The games room at Citadel middle school was a hive of activity this week as students in Rosaria D’Alfonso’s Grade 6/7 class put the finishing touches on gift hampers for eight Port Coquitlam families.
For the past 22 years, the hampers have been a holiday tradition, with staff and students collecting the items, holding fundraisers, wrapping boxes and filling them so D’Alfonso and a colleague can deliver them to those who have signed up.
“It’s something we do every year,” D’Alfonso said. “It’s something the children need to see and do."
Indeed, the charitable work seemed to please the students, who organized the food, carried the boxes for sorting and wrapped gifts specially selected for the families.
“It makes me feel good to give back to the community,” said Simran Dutt, who said she enjoyed the work, which also gave her a sense of gratitude for her own family.
Diego Maltes, a Grade 6 student, made similar comments as he packed a hamper full of canned goods, cereal and household products. “It makes me feel great,” Maltes said.
For a while, the games room had the energy of a North Pole workshop because of all the hustle and bustle.
With D’Alfonso leading the effort, students matched items for each family with the gift-wrapped box in which they would be delivered.
“It’s a gigantic undertaking,” she told The Tri-City News, “But it’s the best thing the school does every year.”
This year, the school is giving several boxes of food and gifts to the local families that have been selected through connections with the school and Share Family and Community Services. In addition to food and household goods, each hamper will be packed with a $125 gift card with money raised through bake sales.
D’Alfonso said the boxes are loaded into teachers’ cars and delivered to each family during the school day.