Oak Knoll Families’ Generous Christmas Contributions Impact Community

As we wrap up the calendar year and head in a host of different directions for the Christmas holidays, we look back on the last few weeks as a flurry of activity not only academically but also of meaningful service opportunities for the entire community. Students in all grades, faculty, staff, parents, and alumnae/i pitched in to donate food, toys, gifts, cards, and their time to our partners in service across the region.

In Oak Knoll’s Lower School, families and employees came together to amass hundreds of toys to benefit the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Paterson. They donated small unisex toys, which the Cathedral donated to families from under-resourced backgrounds at Christmas. Lower School students were encouraged to perform extra chores at home to earn the money to purchase these small gifts. 

“Through this service project, students see how they can make a real difference for those less fortunate in our community,” said Lower School Division Head Christine Spies.

Each December, our Lower School community also donates items to create Christmas dinners for families at Sacred Heart School in Jersey City. Our families volunteer to bring specific donations to collect enough to compile 13 complete Christmas dinners. 

Upper School grades also participate in annual Christmas clothing, gift, and card drives. Each grade level has a commitment to support the following service partners with much-needed items:

  • Grade 7 — Linden Housing Authority
  • Grade 8 — CASA of Union County
  • Grade 9 — New Community 
  • Grade 10 — Pierre Toussaint Food Pantry
  • Grade 11 — Babyland
  • Grade 12 — New Community 

The Parents’ Association organizes an annual Christmas service project as well. This year, they met at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to wrap items that organizations, including Oak Knoll, had donated so that children in Paterson had presents to unwrap for the holidays.

Oak Knoll faculty, staff, and alumnae/i donated lightly worn items for a clothing drive to benefit Oak Knoll Security Officer Jean Sawadogo’s village in Burkina Faso, Africa. Community members also donated funds to offset the costs of mailing the items. This is the second year our community has joyfully responded to this international outreach.

Several Oak Knoll Clubs also dedicated their time and resources to service projects. Jr. Twigs, a student group devoted to benefiting the Overlook Medical Center Auxiliary, made 500 cookies for the center’s employees, while the Scribe’s Club made 200 holiday cards that went into gift baskets distributed by the medical center.

As Upper School Division Head Kate McGroarty aptly summarized in a December communication, “Advent invites us to reflect on patience, kindness, and the significance of our actions as we prepare for a new beginning. May this season inspire us to seek positivity, extend empathy to others, and nurture the spirit of generosity within ourselves. Let’s approach this time with open hearts, fostering a sense of community and unity among us all.”