The Season of Giving

picture of food donationsThe very soul of Christmas is the gift of love embodied in the birth of the Holy Child Jesus. In that spirit, each year, Oak Knoll students enter the holiday season participating in a variety of service and outreach projects.

It has been an Oak Knoll tradition for decades for grades pre-K to 6 to collect food items to fill Christmas dinner food baskets for families at Sacred Heart School in Jersey City. Each homeroom sponsored a Christmas meal bin for a family putting together a total of 15 meals. 

Another special part of the Christmas season is the collection of toys for our St. John the Baptist Cathedral toy drive. 

On December 14, members of the Oak Knoll community gathered at St. John’s Cathedral to wrap presents for the children of Paterson. Pastor of St. John’s, Msgr. Eugene (Geno) Sylva, works tirelessly to bring peace, a sense of community and joy to the people of Paterson. 

Upper School students brought in gifts for the traditional Upper School gift drive. This year, the Upper School will provide Christmas gifts for more than 150 people. Oak Knoll partners with Linden Housing Authority, CASA of Union County, New Community, the Pierre Toussaint Food Pantry, and Babyland to bring these gifts to the community. 

Annually at this time, Upper School students participate in Advent Angels – a secret-Santa-like activity within each grade level. Students write a secret note and a reveal card to their Advent Angel during advisory sessions, and their identity is revealed on the last day of school before Christmas break. 

Students in the Upper School also had the opportunity to participate in a sandwich-making event with students from Seton Hall Prep and to go on a Bridges Run during the Advent season.

Faculty and staff enthusiastically took part in their own special outreach this year by donating to a clothing drive for people in a village in Burkina Faso. Due to the political crisis and armed conflict in the region, 1 in 10 people in Burkina Faso are displaced. “When you are forced to leave your house in a hurry, unlike in America, you don’t just pack things in a car and leave, you leave with nothing,” explains Jean Sawadogo, Oak Knoll Security Officer. Jean hails from a village in Burkina Faso that currently hosts a large number of displaced refugees in need of food, shelter, and clothing. He will take the clothing donations to his village over the holiday break.