12-27-18 The Gift of Reading shared by Watervliet South School students

Watervliet South School Students donated more than 200 books between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Gift of Reading shared by Watervliet South School students

By Katie Muth, S. Elem. Literacy Coach An idea was born as Mrs. Olivia Dodge, school librarian at South Elementary in Watervliet, read books with students and had meaningful conversations about the joy and memories that books can bring to everyone. Students in the second grade classrooms at South talked about their own special memories of reading with family and friends, and expressed their desire to help others to share in that feeling. Mrs. Dodge decided to hold a book drive and collect books from parents, staff, and community members, to then donate to anyone in the community with a desire to read.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas break, over 200 children’s books were donated for the cause. Second graders made posters to advertise the need for books and then made bookmarks to accompany each book. Mrs. Dodge explained that she talked with the students about how giving to others, even strangers, is a great feeling. Book boxes are set up at various sites in the Tri-City Area for all to enjoy. Everyone wanting to contribute can find the book boxes at Saylor’s Pizza, B&B Grocery, Watervliet City Hall, Watervliet Coin Laundry, and Harding’s Friendly Market in Hartford. Mrs. Dodge hopes the idea will continue to grow in years to come, as she has many ideas to get books into even more homes.

STUDENTS HELP LIONS… Hartford High School Student Council teamed up with the Hartford Lions to pack 135 holiday food boxes to be delivered to families throughout the community of Hartford. The Lions began the annual campaign in 1946 as their very first local service project, marking over seven decades of spreading holiday cheer to those in need.

Hartford Lions deliver holiday joy  in 135 gift boxes with packing help from HHS Student Council

By Jon Bisnett Since their inception in 1946, the Hartford Lions Club identified a need to provide some holiday cheer by distributing food baskets to the needy during the Christmas season. A total of 135 boxes are going out this year. Each box contains a turkey, milk, bread, potatoes, vegetables, stuffing, apples, and of course the cranberry sauce and some Christmas candy for an extra treat. Once the boxes are ready to go, they are delivered by members of the Hartford Fire Department, Hartford Police Reserves, and Boy Scouts. Lion Scot Sinclair tells Tri-City Record that the “baskets” were the first service project ever performed by the Hartford Lions when they were charted back in 1946. Grandpa “Jack” Sinclair was a charter member. The referrals of families in need come from Hartford area churches and the schools as they have since the very beginning. Collaboration In addition to the Lions Club, a host of local “elves” bring the project to life. This year’s packers were members of the Hartford High School Student Council. Over the years several area sites have served as the home of the project; the old Hartford Fruit Exchange, Methodist Church, Red Arrow School, the Fire Station, and in recent years the Federated Church. Sponsors Hartford Harding’s Market plays a major role by donating pallets of foodstuffs. Schafer Lake Fruit has been onboard for years along with countless local businesses and individuals who contribute toys and cash donations. The system Much work goes into the project. Each identical box is coded with a special label that provides information for delivery referring to an extensive mapping system. The label reveals both the size of the family and the number of small children. Larger families get extra portions of the donated food items, while age-appropriate toys are added to the households with kids. Even the box packing itself is done with the precision of a military operation. All food items are initially screened for expiration dates. The food items are not just tossed in the box. Lion supervisors call out “Can of corn, front right…” The packing “elves” load the boxes in a uniform manner to insure each family gets each and every item for their Holiday feast. The Lions even have a mechanism for any leftover odd items, which are sent over to the Hartford Cooperative Ministries Food Bank for later distribution. “God Bless Us Everyone” As we each sit down with our own families for our Holiday celebrations and perhaps reflect on those immortal words from Charles Dickens, take just a moment to tip your Santa hat and raise your glass to these dedicated volunteers who make the season just a little bit brighter.