WHS language department holds annual holiday gift drive


Credit: Nadya Chase

Wayland High School’s language department collects gifts for the annual Yawkey Center gift drive. “The gift drive spreads the holiday cheer and helps some families who are a little bit less fortunate,” Spanish teacher Nicole Haghdoust said.

Nadya Chase

For the past 40 years, the Wayland High School language department has held a holiday gift drive for children at the Yawkey Center. This year, the language department collected over 100 gifts, and delivered them to the Yawkey Center on Thursday, Dec. 15.

This year marks Spanish teacher Nicole Haghdoust’s ninth year organizing the holiday gift drive. However, before Haghdoust, the gift drive was annually run by a French teacher because of the Haitian roots of the Yawkey Center.

“Since the Yawkey Center has connections with the Haitian community, when I used to [run the holiday gift drive], I would take French students to drop off the gifts and the kids at the center would sing songs for us in French, which was really cute,” French teacher Sara Langelier said.

Around the beginning of December, language teachers announced the gift drive to their classes. Teachers then gave any students interested in participating a flier with suggested gifts, as well as the gender and age of a child they could buy a gift for. Once the gifts were brought into the language department, some language teachers and students wrapped and marked the gifts. Then, Haghdoust and a select group of WHS students in one of Haghdoust’s Spanish classes delivered the gifts to the Yawkey Center.

“The gift drive spreads the holiday cheer and helps some families who are a little bit less fortunate,” Haghdoust said. “The gifts allow for the kids to have something else to open on Christmas morning or whichever holiday they celebrate.”

During the past two years of COVID-19, Haghdoust was not able to bring WHS students with her to drop off gifts at the Yawkey Center. However, this year, she was able to bring 10 students with her once again. At the Yawkey Center, the students spent time with the children and participated in different activities together. Afterward, Haghdoust and the students enjoyed food from Murl’s Kitchen, a Wayland student’s family-owned restaurant located near the Yawkey Center.

“[The holiday gift drive] is a really great event that allows Wayland kids to have a cultural exchange and spread holiday cheer,” Langelier said.

This year was junior Annabelle Zhang’s second year participating in the gift drive. Last year, she bought a rock painting kit for her selected child. This year, she was assigned to buy a gift for a two and a half year old girl, and bought a shape sorting toy for her.

“I’m hoping that she’s really excited when she opens the toy,” Zhang said. “I made sure to get a toy that was very colorful and one that I thought I would also enjoy as a child.”

Some students, like Zhang, choose to participate in the gift drive because it allows them to give back to the community.

“It feels good to give back and spread holiday cheer,” Zhang said. “There are lots of people in the area who are disadvantaged, and it’s important to be generous and spread holiday cheer during the holiday season.”

The holiday gift drive was a success this year because of the several students who participated, and many language teachers are excited to see how the gift drive will turn out next year. If students missed the opportunity to participate in the gift drive this year and would have liked to, they will have the opportunity to buy a gift for a child at the Yawkey Center next year.

“The language department and the Yawkey Center is very thankful for the Wayland families and their generosity,” Haghdoust said.