Hillcrest Christmas Shop is showing the Energy City not only how to give, but teaching the Hillcrest students the value of giving.
Sarah Pippus the Community Education Liason at Hillcrest School and Director of the Hillcrest Christmas Store, "Every time before the classes first come down to the Christmas Shop, we just go through a reminder. For kids that haven't been here before its a nice way for them to feel included and go in without feeling like we're singling them out. We basically tell them that their job is to think about someone special, think about someone they love and care about. Get that person in mind and think about what does that person like, what do they enjoy doing, what are their hobbies? Just go through the process that we do as adults and teach them how to do it as kids. Have them think about not only what that person likes, but maybe there is something new they haven't had before. You think about what do they have already, just so your not doubling up and things like that. Talk to them about the shopping experience, we talk about the volunteers who set it up, making sure they show appreciation for all the hard work that was put in when going into the store. And sometimes we have people in our life that we want to show appreciation to, it may not be mom or dad, but someone else who has been good to you all year and you want to treat them well at Christmas time and this is a good way for them to be able to pick something out and give it to them. And so we just go through that process and talk to them about being a good shopper and a kind, tell them it's not like a Black Friday experience with your elbows up and to treat your classmates properly. It's a good way to show them a lot of life skills and teach them about giving and the value of treating other people well. Not just because you have been treated well, but because you want to do something you feel good about."
Pippus told of how it all started, "I think we're in our 8th year, it was actually done at least one year before I started in this role. The idea actually came from Maureen Jackie whose our school secretary now. She was the one who started with the idea way back when. We hooked onto it and we wanted to keep it going, and the kids look forward to it every year. I was barely in the building 5 minutes this morning and had someone already asking is this the day, is this the day? We've had kids asking and anticipation has built up, so they're excited about this. It's fun for them to be able to go and do this in school. Sometimes we tend to make things a lot more stressful for them, and this way it's not as stressful for them."
The community has been very receptive Pippus shares, "This year it seems like every day I come to work, they're either a box or a bag sitting here waiting for me that people have dropped off. Its a really good thing this year, we've had a lot of good feedback and a lot of people wanting to lend support. Almost every day I've had someone phone and as to be an elf or help wrap, deliver, whatever we needed. We've had a lot of supplies come in this year, which has been really good. People that are just more aware of our program now, and so I think that really helps."
The program which started out as a small initiative has grown each year into the program it is today.