December first marks the first Sunday of Advent, a time of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus. During Advent, we wait in joy, in hope, and in anticipation for the wonderful event we are about to experience-the feast of Christmas, the coming of Christ into our lives in new ways. This waiting is far from empty; rather, it is full of the hope that God promises us as we prepare for Christ in the feast of Christmas.
Garland of Gloves
At Villa, we will be preparing too-with special prayers each day, decorations including advent wreaths and outside lights, Christmas programs with stories, poems and carols, and the traditional Villa Christmas tree and manger scene in the main hall foyer. But most important during the Advent season are the helping hands extended from Villa Academy to people in need outside our community. Everyone helps-from our youngest preschoolers to the oldest eighth graders as well as our families. Mother Cabrini said, “We must be bearers of Christ’s love to the world.” Our “giving” makes that love real. So, what does our outreach look like during Advent?
Preschool and Kindergarten help children in need all year long. Preschool works with a three different agencies, and Kindergarten partners with Ronald McDonald House. During this Advent season, Preschool students are invited to bring in warm hats, gloves and scarves for First Place School, a school that serves homeless children. They call their drive the “Mitten Tree Project”, named after a lovely children’s picture book. Look for the very real “mitten trees” that will decorate our preschool classrooms and hallway very soon!
Kindergarten also collects hats, mittens, gloves and scarves for children, donating them to the families at Ronald McDonald House. They call their collection “Garlands of Gloves”. Watch for the donated items to be strung in the Kindergarten hallway very soon. Specific information about each drive will be sent home to preschool and kindergarten families. These two drives really make sense for young children because they understand what it is like to be cold.
Villa students extend a helping hand.
Students and families in grades 1-8 are once again invited this year to be part of the Adopt a Family Project, assisting families in need through Providence Regina House. In early December, each grade level is assigned a family with multiple members from Providence Regina House. Classes or advisories get together and brainstorm possible gift ideas for each family member, and students then volunteer to bring in particular items. Sometimes the choosing of a gift will be left up to the gift giver! Wrapped and labeled gifts are brought to school by Monday, December 16th this year, assembled in family groups, and then delivered to Regina House by our Student Council Officers and parent drivers on Wednesday, December 18th. Often, these are the only gifts an “adopted family” will receive. Look for information the first week of December about your student’s adopt a family, communicated by either the homeroom teacher in Lower School or your child’s advisor in Middle School.
From preschool through eighth grade, we encourage families to have children be a part of the giving: earn some of the money for gifts doing jobs, go to the store and help pick out the gift(s), wrap them (grades 1-8), and finally bring them to school themselves. Classes will often make cards or decorations to accompany the gifts, and thus making them truly gifts of love. Through this season of waiting and joyful anticipation, your child will begin to understand what it means to be a “bearer of Christ’s love to the world” by extending a helping hand. Happy Advent!
- Jody Elsner, Lower School Director