Paterson Gift Drive

Thoughts on the Paterson Gift Drive


Matt Carver

Gifts waiting to be opened in one of the classrooms.

Matt Carver, Staff Writer

Gifts, children, smiles, staff, and Benjamin Franklin Middle School. It is that time of year again, time for the famous Paterson gift drive. The Paterson gift drive is a truly beautiful experience which has been going on for 25 years. The Paterson Gift Drive was a tradition started by former BF Vice Principal, Travis Jackson and former Paterson Principal, Sherman Dix. The two men discussed combining our schools resources to help out the Head Start program, which provides schooling for underprivileged children in Paterson. 

The students at BF donate a gift which will be provided to one of the three Head Start program the BF supports. Students spend their time wrapping the gifts, creating cars, and preparing for a concert that will perform at one of the centers.

The day of the drive, starts off with a sense of excitement as the students wait to get together to travel to Paterson, where they will deliver the gifts. Mr. Knott, one of the high school teachers, brings over a box truck to be loaded with the gifts for delivery. Two truck loaders  and assist in the distribution at the facilities. The gifts are loaded and everything was accounted for, or that’s what everybody thought. 

The truck finally pulls up to the East Side school, and the loaders have a duty; to get the gifts ready for the day to come. The truck – loading “elves” knock on a side door and someone comes to greet them. Mrs. Williams, the head of this facility, looks completely filled to the brim with eagerness and enthusiasm as she welcomes the elves in a sing-song kind of dance. 

The truck loaders bring all the gifts inside to organize alphabetically, this was something that was extremely different between the two schools that were visited. The East Side organized and created a kind of schedule that was a little more defined than the West side, which was based off putting all the gifts in one room and going from there. 

However, if there was one thing that was almost the exact same between the two schools it was the concert, where the students performed holiday songs for the children. After all of the gifts were unpacked, the staff was shocked to learn that not all of the presents were in the building. The only thing that the loaders and the staff could do was hope that the bus load of BF students arriving later had the boxes. 

After some time, the bus pulled up to the bright yellow building covered with colored pencils, and the students and singers emerged with the missing gifts. The day was saved! This all happened as the young children in the school looked down at the loaders from their rooms with joy and disbelief as their elvish friends prepared their Christmas. 

The gleam and happiness in the children’s eyes is the most wholesome feeling that anyone could ever experience. All the elves, covered in their festive attire, carried the boxes from room to room placing them in each child’s cubby. It was a fantastic, yet sad experience of finding a cubby and placing a gift inside knowing that it may be one of the only gifts these children receive this Christmas season. 

While the elves were loading the cubbies, the BF Voices were entertaining the kids by singing Christmas songs. Santa made an appearance and greeted all of the children with some hardy ho – ho – hos.

Going to Paterson makes you feel some emotions that most people in Middle School have never felt before, it is not just giving, but also a fun experience that everyone can enjoy. Students get a real sense of what it means to help those less fortunate. The simple fact is, giving a gift to someone this season will not immediately make you a gift giver or a savior, but the practice of going to these events is the thing that will make you a well rounded person. 

According to the greek philosopher, Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” It is through practice and performing acts of generosity that will help to truly change someone’s life. This Christmas season, better yet, all year round, do those gift drives, donate to charity and try and be the best person you can. Not only will it make someone else happy, it will make you happy. Continuing this will spread happiness throughout the whole holiday season and more seasons to come.