WAXHAW – If you visited the media center at Cuthbertson Middle School several weeks ago, you’d probably be wondering if you’d stumbled into Santa’s workshop.
Cuthbertson students were hard at work – and probably feeling a little like Santa’s elves – as they stuffed 760 stockings for clients of the Union County Christmas Bureau.
The project was inspired by Cuthbertson’s annual school-wide read. The entire school reads one specific book each year that usually has some kind of a global focus and exposes the students to different cultures. The students follow the read with a series of activities “to experience different things from the book,” according to Stephanie Ferron, the school’s media coordinator.
This year’s book was “Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter” by Adeline Yen Mah. The story is set in China around the time of World War II and tells of a young girl who was considered “unlucky” because her mother died shortly after childbirth.
“Her family ships her off to boarding school … She struggled to persevere because her family didn’t want to have anything to do with her,” Ferron said.
After reading the book, Cuthbertson students brainstormed about how they could use their outreach project to help underprivileged children and eventually connected with the Union County Department of Social Services.
“We thought it would be a great thing to, instead of doing a project with a global focus, to focus our project locally,” Ferron said.
The students decided to host a drive during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving to collect items for stockings to be given to clients of the Union County Christmas Bureau. The Christmas Bureau is a collaborative effort between DSS and other local organizations, and works to provide gifts, meals and more to families in need during the holidays.
Cuthbertson’s Beta Club helped collect items, and the school received donations from Marriott, a local karate class and more. In addition, students could donate $1 to purchase items for the stockings in exchange for the chance to wear a hat to school for a day. Items collected and purchased included socks, mittens, toiletries, toothpaste and a book for every stocking.
“We tried to make sure (those receiving the stockings) got something they can use, need and really enjoy,” Ferron said.
Once the items were collected, the Beta Club students sorted donations for the stockings in the media center. The students then stuffed the items into the stockings – for a total of 760 fully stuffed stockings. The school also donated eight boxes of toys and other gifts that didn’t fit into the
“(The students) really enjoyed getting to do it,” Ferron said. “The kids wanted to play with all the toys. They had a great time.”
In addition to the stockings, the school hosted food and coat drives for the Christmas Bureau. The drives took place after Thanksgiving break and brought in nearly 2,500 cans of nonperishables and four bags of coats.
Ferron said the drives were a good opportunity for students to become personally involved in an effort to make Christmas more special for those in need.
“In the past, we’ve just raised money (for organizations). The kids don’t see a connection,” Ferron said. “When you do something directly related to them, they realize truly that it hits home.”
Cuthbertson hosts several outreach projects throughout the year, including a recent breast cancer project in October and an upcoming spring project. Ferron said she hopes the projects teach the students “how simple and easy it is to give and how grateful to be for the things they have.”