Students mark birthdays by giving to others

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A long-standing tradition, the junior kindergarten and kindergarten classes at Salisbury Academy celebrate students’ birthdays each quarter by participating in a giving party. During these parties, students bring gifts for a designated local community agency and learn about their mission.
“We try to pick organizations that the students can understand and relate to,” said Penny Moss, junior kindergarten assistant teacher. “They love to open the presents even though they aren’t taking them home. The children learn that they are an important part of our community, and they are helping even at a young age. We talk about how lucky we are to have what we have, and how good it makes you feel to help and give to others.”
This quarter, students held a party for Footprints in the Community, a nonprofit organization committed to increasing participation of families of children with special needs in community activities. Footprints in the Community leaders are planning the organization’s third annual therapy-based summer camp, which requires donations of art and craft supplies for fine motor activities.
Students made finger paints to donate to the camp, along with the pile of gifts filled with art supplies they brought in for the party.
Dr. Ashley Deaton, co-founder and president of Footprints in the Community, read several books geared toward explaining disabilities to young children and explained the purpose of the therapy camp. One of last year’s campers, Bradley Barlow, attended the party with the Salisbury Academy students.
“I could tell Bradley really enjoyed the camp last summer, and I think he got a lot out of it,” said Crystal Barlow, Bradley’s mother.
“This act of giving by Salisbury Academy is such a blessing, said Deaton, who plans and runs the camp with a committee. “Not only does it create a love for giving to others in the hearts of the students there, but it richly blesses the campers at our summer camp. Because of the generous donations of arts and crafts and camp supplies by Salisbury Academy families, we can use our grant funds and donations from the community to enrich the experience of the campers through books they can keep, home activities they can complete, and field trips they can attend.”
“A giving party is a great way to introduce kids to the concept that they are a part of a much larger community, and that even though they are 4 or 5 years old, they can still help others,” said parent Katie Zino. “When my daughter, Brooks, was asked about the party later in the day, she summed it up by saying ‘some children have bodies and brains that don’t work the same as mine, but they still like to have fun at summer camp like me, and we gave them lots of things to make art with so they can have more fun.’”
Other giving parties have benefited organizations and groups such as Food For Thought, Trinity Oaks, Pregnancy Support Center, Faithful Friends, Rowan Helping Ministries and troops serving overseas.