CCA teacher embraces 'Climate of Caring' by gathering holiday gifts for foster children
A Commonwealth Charter Academy teacher gives back by gathering Christmas gifts for foster children each year.
Commonwealth Charter Academy CEO Dr. Reese Flurie has issued a challenge to families, faculty and staff: to create a “Climate of Caring” by getting involved in helping their communities.
CCA teachers and learners across Pennsylvania have stories that show the joy of offering a helping hand and illustrating a Climate of Caring in powerful ways this holiday season.
Giving gifts with joy
Marie Martin, a family involvement coordinator based in Lackawanna County, remembers seeing her mother, a police officer, carry a holiday box full of gifts in the front seat of her cruiser. She would draw from this gift box to offer presents to any child she came across in the street or on home visits. Marie asked her mother about this habit, and she said she will never forget the lesson her mother taught her: “One act of kindness that you can contribute, which may be easy for you, may mean everything to someone else.”
Martin took this message to heart, and she shares it with the CCA community. For the past nine years, she has volunteered with CONCERN, a foster agency that specializes in children with special needs. Martin helps to make sure that each foster child in the area has a present from his or her wish list under the tree every Christmas morning.
The process involves getting a list of gift requests from the agency and making cards with the children’s names and gift wishes. Those interested in being a child's Santa sign up virtually, keeping the list organized. A few weeks before Christmas, the participants bring the items to Martin, who wraps them and takes them to the agency with the children's names on them.
This is Martin’s second year gathering Christmas gifts while working at CCA.
“Last year, I spoke to the region’s high school principal about asking people at CCA to get involved," Martin said. "He has a heart of gold and told me to go ahead and ask teachers if they would get involved.”
Last year, through CCA’s help, Martin covered 20 children for Christmas. This year, she will take 28 children gifts to celebrate the season.
“The CCA community has been jumping at the opportunity to help. It really warms my heart,” Martin said.
In addition to providing gifts, CONCERN hosts a holiday party for foster children to come together and have opportunities for socialization.
Martin encourages others in the community to volunteer, saying it is a “humbling experience” and that it helps to offer needed perspective. The door is open to people who would like to volunteer.
“There are always more children – if anyone wants to participate and sponsor a child, please reach out to me. There is always more we can do,” Martin said.