Students give back to daycare community with holiday cheer


Credit: Courtesy of Ryan Urato

Students package the donated gifts that will be going to children at the Yawkey Center daycare on Dec. 18. “I receive a lot of things during the holidays, so it feels good to give back,” junior Alexandra Kennedy said.

Jess Reilly

The language department will visit the Yawkey Center daycare in Dorchester on Tuesday, Dec. 18. Department Head Melissa Bryant will lead the group attending this annual tradition, which is made up of 22 students.

“[The trip] has been going on for over 40 years, so it’s been going on for a long time,” Bryant said.

Years ago, the Yawkey Center was primarily a Haitian daycare center. As such, much of the community spoke French. WHS French teachers started the trip to connect and give to the community.

“It started out with some French teachers because it was mostly a Haitian daycare center and a lot of folks spoke French,” Bryant said. “That was sort of the cultural connection.”

The trip’s objective is to bring holiday spirit and financial support to the Yawkey Center community by providing the daycare children with gifts and fun activities.

“A lot of folks could use some financial assistance, and [the language department] thought it was a great idea for us to bring some gifts,” Bryant said.

A key part of the trip to Dorchester is holiday spirit. The students celebrate Christmas with the daycare students by having one student dress up as Santa Claus.

“There are about eight classrooms with daycare-age children,” Bryant said. “While Santa Claus is in one room handing out gifts to the children, the other kids are all waiting very impatiently.”

To entertain the eager daycare children, the remaining 21 students engage in various activities and games with the other classrooms until Santa arrives.

“Groups of [high school] students go in to play games and read stories,” Bryant said. “We have ‘Pin the Nose on Rudolph’ and coloring book pages, and we bring stickers and little tattoos and stuff to keep the [daycare] students occupied.”

The students going on the trip are looking forward to the experience. Junior Noelle Flanagan felt inclined by the holiday spirit and her friends to give back to the community.

“[I decided to go on the trip] to get into the holiday spirit of giving and stuff,” Flanagan said. “All my friends are doing it, so it seemed fun.”

Junior Paul Curtin was encouraged by similar incentives. He will be playing the part of Santa Claus.

“I thought it would be nice to help the kids, and I decided to be Santa because I can play a bigger role in the project,” Curtin said.

Language students not attending the trip are also helping to bring holiday joy to the daycare. Many students are participating by purchasing gifts that will be given to children at the Yawkey Center. Junior Alexandra Kennedy is one of the students who will be donating a gift.

“The holiday season is coming up, and I just thought it was a good way to give back to the community,” Kennedy said. “I’m hoping that [the daycare students] will be super excited.”

Students attending the trip are excited to see the children’s reactions to the gifts and their presence at the center.

“[The daycare children] will probably be really happy,” Flanagan said. “I don’t know if they get many presents for Christmas, so it will be good to see them happy.”

Curtin is also very optimistic about the children’s reactions and is anticipating a great experience.

“Hopefully, [the children] will be really happy,” Curtin said. “That’s why I’m doing it. I think they’ll be excited to see all the high school kids.”

The World Language Club and the Spanish Honors Society at WHS have joined together to facilitate the trip.

“One of the prerequisites [of societies] like [the] National Honors Society is to do [community] service,” Bryant said. “A lot of students want to do these types of trips to do service for the community.”

Beyond meeting prerequisites, students are expecting less tangible yet meaningful benefits from the trip.

“Hopefully, [I feel] like I’ve accomplished something or done some good in the community,” Curtin said.

Kennedy looks forward to the rewarding sensation of giving back to the community during the holiday season.

“I receive a lot of things during the holidays, so it feels good to give back,” Kennedy said.

Bryant is enthusiastic about the efforts Wayland language students are taking to help the Yawkey Center and the lessons they will learn.

“Teaching the idea of service [and] bringing not only holiday cheer but sometimes assistance and financial help to the community is great,” Bryant said.