St. Simon students fill holiday grocery bags for families in need

Courtesy of Sally Prout
St. Simon students gather in the school’s gym to assemble holiday grocery bags.

More than 500 students from St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos assembled holiday grocery bags Nov. 29 that will be distributed to families in need as part of a schoolwide service project.

First- through eighth-graders decorated the bags with Santa Claus faces and Christmas trees before stuffing them with holiday cards, nonperishable food and seasonal treats.

For the past 10 years, St. Simon has partnered with the Kinship Center, a nonprofit agency that helps families create safe, sustainable homes for children. This year, the students assembled more than 80 bags of food, which eighth-graders will distribute to families at their Kinship Dinner, a yearly holiday party they host for children and their parents.

“St. Simon Parish School began its relationship with Kinship Center in 2007,” Vice Principal Michelle Nealon said. “Over time, our support grew from simply filling Christmas stockings to now hosting a full Christmas dinner with crafts, food bags, raffles and stockings.”

Eighth-graders led students in other grades through the process of decorating bags, collecting enough food to fill them up and writing encouraging Christmas messages to the recipients.

“Decorating the bags of food for the Kinship families is a great way to get to know students in other grades, while also doing something helpful for those in need,” said eighth-grader Riley Simonsen. “I loved the environment in the gym during our service project. Everyone was smiling because we all knew that our work would go toward something great.”

The hands-on service project is conducted entirely by students, but teachers work behind the scenes to ensure that it goes smoothly and that students learn the importance of serving others who are less fortunate.

“One of the most rewarding moments working in a Catholic school is the sense of community and coming together with love,” said Becky Van Meter, the sixth-grade teacher who coordinates the food collection efforts for the school. “It is such a joy to see all the students involved in an effort to feed the less fortunate.”

Eighth-graders will see first-hand the transformative effect of their service when they host their Kinship Dinner this month and personally distribute the grocery bags to families.

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