Holiday season inspires acts of charity


Colin Henke

Donated books overflow from their boxes at the book drive.

Mackenzie Condon and Emma Searle

In the holiday spirit of giving back, Dr. Natalie Munn’s leadership class orchestrated a schoolwide food drive, and senior Meghan Sonia spearheaded the National Honor Society’s (NHS) book drive in collaboration with the Edgartown Public Library.

Students began the food drive project by identifying groups of people in need. Senior leadership student Katie Morse said, “We felt that it was our responsibility to make sure that we provided support for those in need this holiday season.”

They reached out to Community Services and worked with Lyndsay Famariss, the coordinator of Counseling Outreach and Referrals for the Elderly (CORE), which is a home-based counseling program for people 55 years old and over that offers mental health and substance abuse counseling.

“It’s not uncommon for the clinicians who work in this program to come across elders who are really struggling to make ends meet,” said Ms. Famariss. “The last week to 10 days of each month are the toughest, before Social Security arrives at the beginning of the next month. Right now it’s that time of year when Islanders tend to be feeling that pinch.”

The class also sought outside help in order to target the most beneficial foods for the drive. Dr. Munn said, “We talked to Prudence Levy, who does nutritional work in our community, and it was nice of her to remind us that the elderly do need things that are low-sodium, and staples like beans and tuna.”

With posters demonstrating how much of each targeted food type had been collected throughout the drive, it was helpful to see what was still needed.

Katie said, “Keeping track of our efforts has gotten us all excited about the progress we have been making. It has been wildly successful.”

Ms. Famariss said, “I’m thrilled; it’s so great to see our younger community members looking out for the elders.”

Unlike the food drive, which started within MVRHS, the book drive done by NHS was part of a greater Island-wide drive created by Elyce Bonnell from the Edgartown library.

Meghan recalled that it was one of Elyce’s statements to her that made her realize the importance of a book drive. “[Elyce] said that children with more access to books and more reading are more likely to succeed in life,” she said. “This is a good way to help the younger kids on the Island further their education.”

NHS has been sending out emails to advertise the drive, and students have put a box in the front office for book collection. NHS students also had the opportunity to give books out with Santa at the Edgartown Public Library.