Germantown Friends School second graders are solidly placed on the “nice” list this season.
Starting on Nov. 1, they began doing extra chores at home to earn money. They raked, shoveled, set tables, read to little brothers and sisters, folded laundry and made beds. The class then pooled their allowances to purchase gifts that they wrapped and gave to kids at the annual Stenton Family Manor Christmas Dinner on Thursday, Dec. 19.
The Upper School Community Action Committee has hosted this annual Stenton shelter celebration for more than 20 years. But for the second graders, according to teacher Susan Shechtman, “for many of these kids, it is the first time that they see the power of their own work to do good for others.”
“They are children helping other children in a way that makes sense to them,” she added. She said that many of the students expressed surprise that they had gotten pretty good at remembering to feed their cat or packing their own lunches.
“They felt capable and productive,” Shechtman said.
Twenty-five children, whose families are staying at the shelter as they work through homelessness from struggles such as domestic violence, family breakups and evictions due to job loss, enjoyed an early Christmas dinner, drinking hot chocolate by the fireplace, opening gifts and enjoying music performed by the GFS A Cappella group.
Kathy Paulmier, director of community involvement at GFS, said, “The kids at Stenton are in a transitional time of their lives and respond happily to fun teenagers, homemade food and Santa’s arrival. Stenton’s families are in crisis and are working to rebuild their lives. We give the parents a break by taking the children for a few hours one evening and giving the kids a special time that’s just for them.”