A tradition for over 20 years, the Giving Tree has been a helpful and generous event to connect with citizens of Hartford and improve their Christmas holiday. The Giving Tree is a community service project in which students take a tag off a Christmas tree indicating what a child from a Hartford church wants for his or her holiday season. Along with this information, the tag includes the child’s gender and age to make the gift easier to select. Then the tag-taker buys this gift and places it under the tree to be delivered to the church at a later date. These acts of kindness, big or small, can truly make a difference for a child’s holiday and can make their day a little brighter.
This KO tradition started back when the middle school campus was in the current location of Bristow Middle School. Former English teacher Ms. Nancy Horowitz became close to custodian Ms. Christine Davis and thought of this idea to help the children at her church, The 7th-day Adventist Church in Hartford. From that idea came the Giving Tree, which has remained an annual event.
Former Spanish teacher Erika Costantini took over the project until she moved last spring. Now, history teacher Peter Burdge and English teacher Beth Repp are in charge. New to the Giving Tree, they are very passionate about this project. “I think it’s the idea that we, as a school and community, are willing to help others and volunteer ourselves. “I think it’s important that we recognize that we are lucky to receive presents for the holiday and I think it’s great that students can understand that that’s not the case for everyone,” Mr. Burdge said.
Students do realize this responsibility and how vital it is to understand the importance of giving. Eighth graders Maia Killory and Ava Leshem have truly realized this after donating during their years at KO. “I think it’s a nice idea to give to people that don’t have as much as you, and I am imagining that she is happier when she sees my gift,” Maia said after buying dolls for a child through the Giving Tree. Ava agreed. “I think it’s important because some kids don’t have what we have: go to a nice school, have nice clothes, and have toys to play with. By giving these gifts, it makes them feel happy, warm, safe, and special during the holiday season,” she said.
The Giving Tree is important to the middle school community and teaches the importance of giving as well as receiving during the holidays. It is a tradition that will continue for many years to come.