The Giving Tree

Today was awesome and the things that happened inside of this very school made me incredibly proud to be a part of the beautiful Eastport South Manor community.

In case you didn’t know, this is our Jr. and Sr. High School.  And every day, just over 1,800 Jr. and Sr. High students walk these halls, learning not only about English, Science and Social Studies, but also about life and ways to live it best.


One of the teachers who has taken on a personal responsibility for helping teach these greater lessons is a teacher named Mr. Gregory Barbera.  He is an art teacher but more so he is an influencer for social good.  Every year, he is a director and key organizer in the ESM Stuff-A-School Project.  Basically, many of the clubs at the school get together and parter up with local charities to help make the Holidays a special time for others.  It’s an incredible collaboration of goodwill and it’s a great way for the students of ESM to join together to do great things.


Eastport Bible Church is a beneficiary of The Giving Tree each year.  A beautiful Christmas tree is decorated with gift tags specifying gifts for local families in need.  Students, teachers and staff then take the tags and purchase the item listed.  The presents are brought to the school and then today we drove our church bus over to collect all of the items that were donated.  Each year, our church puts together a list of families in our community who might be struggling over the holidays and this is a direct way that we can help them in a beautiful way.


Just after we arrived at the school, Mr. Barbera gathered together a team of students to help pack up the bus.


One of them was our amazing neighbor Jimmy, so of course I made him stop for a quick picture.  It made my heart so happy to see these students ready and willing to help.


And when everything was finished, the bus was packed full.  We expressed our extreme gratitude to Mr. Barbera and to the school because this was an amazing and beautiful sight to see.  Each of these presents represents someone in our community, helping out someone else and to me, there is no greater expression of love than to give to each other in such a beautiful and selfless way.


Jeremy drove the presents back to our church where we had a team ready to wrap and label each gift.


It was so cool to see everyone who was able to come and help with this incredible feat.


In addition to the gifts,


There were also beautiful plates of cookies that were provided by the Family and Consumer Science class.  Our son Christian told me that was the name for what I’m assuming was previously Home Ec.  They baked an incredible variety of Christmas cookies for each family and also made handmade cards filled with Christmas wishes.


I stayed to help wrap for a few hours this year.  And it was pretty delightful.


Our church’s secretary, Joy Remski was our organizational genius.  She knew all of the needs of all of the families and did a beautiful job orchestrating everyone so that every gift was wrapped and distributed perfectly.



It was a wonderful way to spend the morning.



And little by little, every gift was wrapped with love, and placed in its spot, ready for the families that will come later this week to pick them up.


Participating in the events of The Giving Tree made me so incredibly joyful to be a part of such a caring community.  From Mr. Barbera and the other organizers of this event, to the students, teachers and staff who provided the gifts, to the Christmas present wrappers at our church there were so many hands and hearts that went into making this Christmas extremely memorable for so many families in need.  Thank you so very much to everyone involved!


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I love Jesus, my Youth Pastor Husband and our two beautiful children. I'm a professional photographer and I love people, especially kids. My best days include time with my family, Hot Yoga and a Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream cone.

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