One of our annual traditions, is meeting the entire Bishop Stang Freshmen class at the factory.
Photo archive HERE. (This year’s photos are a gift from students; Amelia Bailey and Emily Iovanna)
Thank you to student Veronica Bernier for the following essay:
“A few days ago, the freshman class from Bishop Stang volunteered their time at the GiftsToGive factory in Acushnet. I’d been briefly a few times, but had never gone throughout the building. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect due to the rough surroundings – flaking paint, tangled fences, and rusty metal – but contrary to its initial appearance, once I stepped in, away the harsh wind, the building suddenly seemed warm and inviting. A volunteer manager, gave us a talk on child poverty in America and in our communities, and how GiftsToGive was trying to help the over 75,000 local kids living under the poverty line (yearly income under $17,000) in the South Coast Area.
GiftsToGive has been operational for about ten years, and volunteering starts at the of age of three. There’s a job for everyone, whether cleaning shoes or organizing toys. Navigating through the cornucopia of items, I met with Nancy Collins, who is the Volunteer Manager. Mrs. Collins has been helping out daily for the past four years. “My favorite part,” she says, “is being able to fill orders for children in need, and working with groups from schools.”
The Stang students separated into groups, each working at a station dedicated to checking and cleaning each item from the moment it comes through the door to the moment it leaves the building – six inspection steps in total. Blue bins filled with clothes are lined on the classic wooden floors next to tall shelves with small signs directing the volunteers, reminding them that a “slightly stained shirt is still a stained shirt!”
I spoke with several other students including Cody Clark, armed with a toothbrush, simple green, and plastic trucks, who said that seeing all of these toys that he once played with “remind me of my childhood, and I hope that others will share the same happiness I had while playing with them.”; Ariana Barboza, at a table where rows of gently used shoes were scrubbed and inspected from the heel to toe, stated, “It’s important to make the receiver of the gifts feel as though these shoes are brand-new, to give back to our community and make the kids happy.”
No matter the station, the children and supervising adults work diligently, reminiscing when they come across a familiar doll, or chatting about how they are happy to help out the community. To quote student John Campbell, “The work can be hard, but it really pays off, to imagine the faces of the kids when they receive the gift packages.”
And GiftsToGive isn’t just sticking with clothes and toys. In fact, they’ve been working on renovating the cafeteria of the old Titleist factory into a student-run restaurant, stocked with fresh vegetables from the garden. They’ve even taken to raising bees for honey and pollination. Salve Regina has been partnering with GiftsToGive to create hydroponic garden beds inside the factory, and one of the volunteer managers said, “It will all be student run, and events and fundraisers will be held.”
With just the one day’s help of our freshman class, approximately 144 local children will receive personalized packages stuffed with clothes, school supplies, toys and books.
Overall, though your first impression may be a land of controlled chaos, as you see how much effort the volunteers put in to help out kids that need help, you become accustomed, and eventually the maze of shelves is familiar, leaving you wanting to come and volunteer again.” Veronica Bernier, Bishop Stang High School, North Dartmouth, MA, November 12, 2018