After months of planning, more than 15 elves made a trip on Monday to Hilltop Elementary School in Glen Burnie to help bring Christmas cheer.
Hilltop Elementary School Principal Louise DeJesu thanked the Folger McKinsey parents and explained how this volunteer effort called Hilltop Sharing assists her students with Christmas and prepares them for success.
“There are 13 Title I schools in Anne Arundel County,” said DeJesu. “Hilltop has 570 students. We are at about 70 percent poverty. The next group is the working poor, but it’s really not the working poor. These are the people that can’t get free and reduced lunches, but have medical bills and whatever.”
DeJesu marveled at the outpouring of gifts, staged in the portable classroom by the Folger volunteers for later distribution.
“For seven years, [Folger] has committed themselves to giving, very graciously, under the radar, just helping families. This is incredible! This is absolutely God’s work. You are going to bring joy to kids right here in Anne Arundel County,” she said.
Karen Williams, Folger co-coordinator for Hilltop Sharing, said the school started preparing after Halloween to get the gifts, wrap them and deliver them to the school.
Since the beginning of the partnership with Hilltop, Folger parent Jen Haber has organized this event. With her youngest in fifth grade, this will be her last year on the project.
Chris Myers, Folger parent and longtime Hilltop Sharing volunteer, organized class time so that Folger students could wrap gifts and actively take part in sharing Christmas with others.
DeJesu expressed how Hilltop Sharing helps in the long term, “If you feel good about who you are, I can push you to the next step, I can push you to learn.”
Every class at Folger adopted a Hilltop family, resulting in 19 families that had Christmas gifts provided for them. Other schools, organizations and churches also contribute so that every family at Hilltop receives Christmas gifts.
DeJesu reflected, “When you sit around at Christmas or Hanukkah, you can say to yourself, 'We did our bit to make America brighter and we took some action.'
“I am very humbled by your generosity," DeJesu said. "You will be in my prayers. I want to thank you very, very much. All of our families will appreciate this. This gives them hope, and with hope, anything is possible. God bless you all.”