For over 28 years, Notre Dame Academy (NDA) has packed up thousands of gifts and traveled to Harlan, Kentucky, to bring Christmas to those less fortunate. Last week, students, faculty, staff and parents loaded a semi-truck and brought over 1500 presents, 100 pounds of sloppy joes, over 1,000 handmade cookies along with other food, and supplies to spread Christmas cheer and hope. Due to a generous gift from a local company, the school filled the semi with gently used children’s toys, stuffed animals, school supplies, and children’s books, as well as, winter coats, boots, gloves, hats, and scarfs.
Student clubs and projects have also donated to the cause. All proceeds from Student Council’s Secret Santa project were donated to the Appalachia trip to help offset the cost of the lunches. NDA Families, faculty and staff along with many other donations received from businesses, and alumnae helped to ensure Christmas made it to those in Appalachia. In addition to helping Santa provide a gift to the children and adults, students organized and manned a toy store that consisted of gifts donated from various organizations and individuals. “Shoppers” got tickets and chose toys in the morning. In the afternoon, students hosted a Christmas party where they prepared a meal and entertained with a talent show.
Closer to home, NDA students in grades 7-10 put on a Christmas party for Toledo families from Queen of Apostles Parish. There was lunch, games, face painting, a coloring station, and, of course, presents and a visit from Santa! Christmas cookies, sliced fruit, sloppy joes, along with other food and supplies will be available to families during the annual Christmas Parties. Students spent hours decorating and packaging over 1,000 Christmas cookies. Each cookie was perfectly decorated and included a Christmas greeting.
“I think interest in the “Appalachian at Home” experience has continued to grow because the younger students see their older classmates being involved and so excited to go to Appalachia.” said Mrs. Faye Smith of NDA Co-Director of Campus Ministry. “They have really jumped in and committed to this project. The girls have been meeting and practicing Christmas carols, skits, and have planned games for the kids at the party. NDA students and their families along with NDA faculty, staff are 100% committed to this project every year!”
In 2012, NDA added “Appalachia at Home” an event for local children and families of Queen of Apostles Parish. The Appalachia program had grown so much in the hearts of NDA students that we had to limit the Kentucky trip to grades 11 and 12 since we can only take 40 students,” shared Mrs. Smith. “Since we always had such an overwhelming amount of girls wanting to be a part of it, we decided to re-create the same party for those in need in Toledo!” Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!