Dec. 17, Christmas came early at JW House, when about 25 students from Sutter Elementary School arrived bearing wrapped gifts, food to stock the pantry, toys for visiting children and kitchenware. April Bignell, family services director of the JW House, was visibly moved when the students placed their gifts in front of the JW House’s Christmas tree. The facility offers overnight and day use services for families of patients receiving treatment in hospitals nearby.
“I love that young children are learning the joys of philanthropy and giving back to the world around them,” says Terri Chapman, president of JW House board of directors. “We could not run the JW House without generous donations of both time and money.”
“This is a picture you’d never forget,” says Sutter student Vyas, 10. “It makes me think of the kindness in our school community and the happiness it will give many people.”
“It feels cool to come here and donate gifts people have brought for the JW House,” says Ryan, 11. “Our family donated four cans of pasta sauce.”
Last year, Sutter School’s fourth grade students participated in a fundraiser for JW House. This year’s fundraiser, led by the school’s student council, expanded to include the whole school.
“We have two giving trees in the office and in the library; we sent home a flyer to parents and encouraged them to take home an ornament for an item donation or to offer cash donations,” says Marlene Wilhelm, a fourth grade teacher at Sutter. “A few classrooms have done classroom gifts. Our class collected money to give the JW house a new lamp. Another class, a third grade class, collected money for a wish list at Bed Bath & Beyond. The teacher, Erin Chapman, went and bought serving dishes, towels and different items on the wish list. A lot of people have donated gift cards to various places like Safeway or Target. We have boxes and boxes of donated food items.”
Wilhelm adds that the trip from the school to the JW House required that she and Paula Cappelloni, second grade teacher and student council lead teacher, accompany the students on the 20 minute walk. About six parents loaded up their cars with the collected items and transported them to JW House. Sutter School families contributed monetary donations, over $500 in gift cards and $1,500 worth of merchandise.
After the students chatted with the JW House staff about their giving project, they received a tour. In the living room, they met the Lexus Bear, estimated to be about seven feet tall. The bear, Chapman explains, came with a grant from Lexus of Stevens Creek Service Center.