Schoolwide Spirit of Generosity Fills Islip High

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As the holidays approached, a spirit of generosity and goodwill filled the high school, marking numerous efforts to give back to the community.

The Foreign Language Honor Society collected new, unwrapped toys and gifts for children in need who live in Suffolk County, with the school community once again coming together to donate numerous gifts. James Nelson, a representative of the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, is distributing the gifts directly to the children.

“We extend our sincere appreciation to all the participants in the Islip community for their generosity and support,” said FLHS adviser Karen Maisano. “Kindness is a language everyone understands.”

For the past 16 years, school nurse Janet Schlageter and social worker Donna Ruggiero team up each holiday season to hold their “Mitten Tree” initiative to collect items for those less fortunate. Students whose families are in need are nominated by the guidance staff and teachers. Ruggiero and Schlageter then contact these families to obtain a “wish list” of presents for every member. Each gift is written on a paper mitten and hung from a small tree in the school’s main office. Faculty and staff choose a mitten, buy the gift and return it unwrapped to the health office. The gifts are then distributed prior to the beginning of the holiday break.

“The response is always heartwarming and a positive experience for everyone involved,” said Schlageter.  “Although the process can seem daunting at the beginning of every season, as the gifts come in, I am continually reminded of the strong community bonds that make Islip such a special place to work and live.”

Students in the high school’s life skills class were also eager to do their part in giving back to the Islip community via the preparation of food baskets. Starting in October, the class began running a muffin sale before school, with the proceeds used to purchase items for the baskets.

“The budgeting and shopping for the baskets allows the students to work on their math, travel training and community skills while doing something nice for others,” said life skills teacher Linda Colucciello. “For Thanksgiving, the class was able to provide seven families in the community with a holiday basket.”

Additional nonperishable food items donated by the school’s Honor Society enabled the life skills class to create additional baskets for needy families through the winter season.