Students at have been participating in charity events every year, but this time it was different. They decided to collect items and make arts and crafts to benefit the sick children and their families at the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital located in Valhalla.
[Check out the video for highlights from the school's charity event celebration.]
Over the last few weeks, students have been placing collected items at the drop boxes in the school's lobby and brought in even more Friday night, which was the culmination of their efforts.
During the charity event celebration, students got to sing songs and make masks and paper hearts, which the hospital's walls and bullet boards would be decorated with.
"Giving my students and our school community the opportunity to give back has always been the cornerstone of our school and supports my personal philosophy," said Karen Gagliardi, principal of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. "We always seek ways to share, support, and give back to worthy causes."
PTA member Gina Monte, affected by a personal experience with the hospital, was instrumental in working out the details for the event. Her friends Anthony and Kim Zuzzolo's daughter Mary, who has a terminal illness, has been treated at the hospital. PTA co-president Denise Kness said she and co-president Rachelle Nardelli had also organized the charity event in honor of the Gina Monte and her family who have suffered a personal loss with their daughter years ago.
Former Thomas Jefferson Elementary School student Matthew Pedretti, who had stayed at the hospital himself when he was in middle school, thanked the children on Friday and said their donations will make a difference to the children who are being treated at the hospital.
"Teaching our children that helping others matters is our message, they benefit in ways that raise awareness about others and grow in matters of the heart and soul and learn they too can make a difference," Gagliardi said.
More than 130 students, parent volunteers, PTA members, and staff had been working on making the "event special," Gagliardi said. The items collected include toothbrushes, toothpaste, coloring books, crayons, deodorant, tissues, hand cream, shaving cream, disposable razors, gum, tea bags, mints, crossword books, hypoallergenic laundry detergent and dryer sheets, sticker books, pajamas, decks of cards, and DVD's.
Maria Fareri Children's Hospital provides care for children with all different types and severities of illnesses.