Islip Sends 800 Letters to Santa


In a districtwide show of compassion, students across Islip’s schools contributed more than 800 letters for Macy’s “Believe” campaign. The annual effort donates a dollar to Make-A-Wish for every letter written and “mailed” to Santa, helping to grant wishes for children with life-threatening diseases.

Islip’s involvement began a year earlier with Sherwood second-grade teacher Mary Bauernfeind. She encouraged her fellow teachers at Sherwood as well as Patricia Austin in Commack Road to have students write letters to Santa for the Macy’s campaign. The idea behind it was that the letter-writers would ask Santa for gifts for others. This year, Bauernfeind expanded the invitation, leading to the involvement of Meghan Finnerty at the middle school and Valerie Cordara at Wing Elementary.

“This small idea snowballed into a district effort,” explained Bauernfeind. “My colleagues told their students not to request something for themselves, but to think of others. The letters were wonderful and some were very poignant. One little girl asked Santa to give her sister hair because she is battling cancer. Another letter was written by a boy who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but he asked Santa to bring gifts to his friends and his favorite teacher. We always tell our students that ‘small hands can do big things,’ and this is a way of enabling them to understand that every person can contribute to make our world a better place.”