by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — What will be under the tree for about 100 families this Christmas will leave many feeling quite a bit of relief.
As has become tradition in Niagara Falls High School, the children enrolled in Karyn Morrison’s life skills class at the city’s high school are assembling boxes of meals being distributed to families of some of their school mates who are struggling to make ends meet this holiday season.
“The food goes to the families of students here at the high school,” Morrison said. “We supply everything they’d need for breakfast, lunch and dinner, right through the whole day.”
Called the 12 Days of Christmas, the program brings the community together as they donate all types of food for making the meals. Area donors, whether they be corporate or folks in the community, provide desired items based on the progressive day.
The first day features a box of cereal, while the final day, today, asks participants to provide some type of meat which can be used for a Christmas night meal.
Started by retired Dean of Students Sam Giancola, the program allows families to feel some relief during stressful times. But since Giancola retired and Morrison took over, it’s taken on even more meaning, since her students especially enjoy working to build the boxes as they learn valuable life lessons.
“We donate food for the whole family,” student Samuel Thames said. “We get to feel the holiday spirit. I feel like I could give them lots of food. It makes me feel happy and proud.”
Both Sammy, as he’s known, and his classmate Alexandria Foster have previously received baskets thanks to the program. Now, they’re helping to ensure other families get a chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Foster said she’s happy to help knowing first-hand just how beneficial these donated items can be.
“We appreciate the baskets,” she said. “It helps us a lot. People don’t have to feel stressed out.”
And in the holiday season, when people should be focused on brightening the lives of those around them instead of maniacally running around trying to accomplish six or seven things at once, the small help can mean an awful lot to the right people.
Morrison said anyone who wishes to donate food to the 12 Days program can do so by calling the high school at 278-5800. She said baskets can also be distributed to community members, but only after all of the students requesting a package are delivered.
Distribution is handled by the school’s teachers and members of the Falls Police Department in the days leading up to Dec. 25.
She said Victor Muto of Frenchy’s Pizza and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission have also supported the program with generous donations.