The season of giving was in full swing at the Rumson Country Day School (RCDS) with the donation of thousands of gifts and toys for families in need.
Students, parents, faculty and staff participated in The Giving Tree, which benefits Family and Children’s Services and Horizons Student Enrichment Program at RCDS.
“This is the longest continuously run charitable program in Monmouth County,” RCDS Parent Council Philanthropy Chair Tiffany Senft said in an RCDS press release. “It started 109 years ago. Last year, Family and Children’s Services served a record 600 families. The gifts are grouped for each family along with winter coats, diapers, wipes and grocery store gift cards so parents can have a normal Christmas at home. It’s really overwhelming to see how generous our community is.”
Aidan MacManus, a seventh-grader at RCDS, was one of the many volunteers lending a hand in The Giving Tree efforts. He helped carry packages in festive wrapping paper to the school auditorium, where they would be picked up and delivered to families.
“I like to give back to others because I know it will make people smile,” MacManus said in an RCDS press release. “I know what happiness feels like, and I want others to feel that way. The excitement of waking up on Christmas with your family cannot be recreated; it’s the greatest feeling in the world. It’s not fair that everyone is not able to experience it. The Giving Tree makes that possible, and I think it brings people together in many ways.”
The RCDS, a co-education school in Rumson with an enrollment of more than 400 students from nursery through eighth grade, supports several local programs and organizations throughout the year, including Meals on Wheels, The SPCA, Holiday Express, Lunch Break and Scarves for Soldiers. The school also sees more than 80 students return to campus each summer to volunteer in its Horizons Student Enrichment Program.
Students are also offered the opportunity to provide positive moments for others through the Service Learning program at RCDS, which is an elective class available to upper school students during their activities period.
“We are committed to raising socially aware and compassionate citizens,” RCDS Service Learning Coordinator Amy Clark said in an RCDS press release.
Clark noted that the Service Learning program provides students meaningful, hands-on activities to help serve the community, including making trips to the Harbor School, a school for students with special needs in Eatontown.
According to Clark, there are currently 35 students enrolled in the Service Learning elective. Seventh- and eighth-graders will have the opportunity to choose the Service Learning elective again early this year.
“The smiles say it all,” Clark said in an RCDS press release. “Everyone benefits from these moments. I am so grateful to be involved in this program and to be able to provide an experience like this.”