Plymouth River kids share holiday cheer with Housing Authority residents

Photo courtesy of Katherine Fischer; From left to right: Connor Jones (gr4), Colton Fischer (gr5), Avery Besser (gr5), Sloane Besser (gr3), Violet Fischer (kindergarten), Caroline Sullivan (gr5)

December 23, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer

There's no better time than the holiday season to spread goodwill and cheer, especially during these very different times.

With that idea in mind, the Plymouth River School PTO partnered with the Hingham Housing Authority to provide gift bags to the residents of Thaxter Park as well as the maintenance crew, which has worked tirelessly sanitizing and maintaining the property along with assisting residents during the pandemic.

"Every PRS family was invited to participate in this effort to donate gift cards, winter essentials, and hand-made ornaments," said Renee Besser, PTO co-president with Kelly Jones.

Student helpers assisted with delivering about 100 gift bags to Thaxter Park -- with social distancing and face masks in place -- Tuesday, along with a note explaining how the PRS community effort came together and wishing everyone a happy holiday.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Fischer

PTO Community Service Committee helper Katie Fischer collected the gifts and ornaments at her house. "This was a real group effort. Our families were very generous with their donations," she said. "This was a nice way for them to give back to the community -- to recognize that there are families in need in Hingham and to step up to help their neighbors."

Fischer especially enjoyed seeing the unique ornaments crafted by the students, which added a creative flair to the gift bags.

In all, PRS K-5 families donated more than $1,000 in gift cards, toiletries, granola bars, and other items.

While the HHA partnership is new this year, the PTO Fifth-Grade Committee and fifth-graders have had a tradition of community service and outreach over the years.

Due to COVID restrictions, the PTO had to pivot from its long-standing relationship with the Hingham Senior Center in serving breakfast and lunch there for older residents during the school year.

This change provided an opportunity to move forward with more COVID-friendly projects, including commemorating Veterans' Day by collecting and assembling gift bags of essential items for veterans living in the Commander Anderson House on Fort Hill Street.

"Our fifth-graders also do schoolwide, outside cleanups of the PRS playgrounds, entryways, and garden," Besser said.

The PTO Community Service Committee includes all grades in giving back to the community. This year students coordinated a candy donation drive for soldiers and a gift drive for Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore.

Hingham Housing Authority Chair Janine Suchecki said the HHA board of commissioners is extremely grateful to the Plymouth River School community for spreading holiday cheer to Housing Authority residents. "Especially with the COVID-19 restrictions this year, receiving heartfelt gifts from children in the community brings warmth to each one of our residents."

As a veteran herself, Suchecki said she's also thankful that this same group of students and parents took the opportunity "to remember each of our veterans living at the Commander Anderson House with personal gifts this past Veterans' Day. There is much to learn from the example set by our friends at Plymouth River."

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