During the holiday season, people are inspired to help others. This is certainly true for Seabury Hall’s Kids Helping Kids club, which has just embarked on its annual Toy Drive.
During morning assembly on Monday, Nov. 17, junior Scout Weymouth, Kids Helping Kids’s student coordinator, announced the Toy Drive to Seabury Hall’s student body.
The deadline for the toy drive is Friday, Dec. 5, and the club hopes to get 100 toys for the children. The children’s ages range from babies to ten-year-olds.
The toy drive is not the only highlight of the Christmas party that the club puts on at the homeless shelter. The students gather the kids and decorate cookies. After the cookies are decorated, the kids line up to visit Santa and receive their toy.
Weymouth said, “This year, we are [hosting the party] from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm. We go in there and gather all of the kids and we help carry the babies over. Then we’ll have cookie decorating, and Mr. Schmidt is dressed up as Santa and they all get in a line and there is this huge pile of toys. We have them all marked with the age and we ask the kids how old they are and give them the toy. It makes them really happy, which is super exciting.”
The Kids Helping Kids club has been bringing smiles to young childrens’ faces since 2000 when the club was started by the Quill family. Three students organized tutors to go to the homeless shelter and later received a grant to buy computers and other academic tools for the children.
This year, the Kids Helping Kids club goes to the Ka Hale A Ke Ola homeless shelter in Wailuku on Tuesdays from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm to help the families. Students give moral and physical support, give advice on homework, work in the garden, and mentor the children. The club hosts parties for Halloween, Christmas, and sometimes certain other holidays.
Weymouth said, “Anyone’s welcome to come. It’s a really great experience.”
About two years after the club was founded, the students organized a Christmas party for Makawao Head Start. The club joined with Seabury Hall’s Interact Club to raise money and buy toys for the children.
Junior Sophia Jorgensen, who is involved with Seabury Hall’s Rotary Interact club, said, “The Rotary Club usually buys all of the toys, but this year we haven’t really done any fundraising, so this year we decided to open it up for Seabury students to help out. We decided to do a toy drive.”
Every year since the Christmas party was started, Seabury Hall’s headmaster, Mr. Schmidt, has dressed up as Santa Claus for the children.
Schmidt said, “The excitement is just magic. The kids are all giddy, and they’re running around with big smiles on their faces and they’re laughing and yelling and pulling on my beard, doing all kinds of stuff like that. They just have a great time.”
Seabury Hall’s counselor, Susan Pirsch, who is also the club’s advisor, described an event that happened when she went to the homeless shelter for the Christmas party once, “There was a little kid one time who, after we handed out presents, tugged on me and said, ‘Aunty, I can open my present?’ and I go, ‘Go ask your mom’ and then there was this silence and then a tug, ‘Aunty, my mommy’s in jail’ and I go, ‘Go ahead and open your present.’”
Even though they are living in rough circumstances, they have hope and happiness thanks to the Kids Helping Kids club. Seabury Hall’s students serve as role models and inspiration to the kids to help others in the future.
Helping the families at the homeless shelter does not only benefit the families, but it also brings appreciation to the students in the Kids Helping Kids Club. Schmidt said, “The club instills a sense of service that impacts people for a lifetime.”
Schmidt also said, “It makes me recognize how much most of us have and that the idea of just giving a present to a child, what a difference it makes in the eyes of children who live here when sometimes most of us are in a position where we can get four or five presents, and it doesn’t give you the same joy as this one little child does when you give them that present.”
Pirsch said, “It goes both ways; our kids get to go see these wonderful resilient kids that are living in some hard circumstances who still show up with great joy and happiness and eagerness and those kids get to meet kids who care about them.”
The Kids Helping Kids club benefits the kids at the homeless shelter and benefits students in the club by instilling appreciation and a sense of helping others in need. All are welcome to the Christmas party and the club’s weekly visits to the homeless shelter.