WHS students give back to the community this holiday season

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Credit: Courtesy of Bella Boyajian

During the holidays, many WHS students look to give back to their community. Two WHS students, sophomore Bella Boyajian and junior Lily Boyajian created a toy drive for kids in foster care. “Our goal was to fill at least five bags of toys.” Bella said. “With all of the generous donations we are now filling more than ten bags and hopefully more to come.”

Sidney O'Rourke and Sophia Oppenheim

The holiday season can be a cheerful time of great food, gift-giving and merriment, and for many, that can be a reprieve from the monotony of regular life. However, for a few WHS students, the holidays are essential to giving back and helping the community.

Thanksgiving kicks off the festivities as the first holiday of the year that most people celebrate with large groups of their extended family. This year, Thanksgiving had to look different because of COVID-19 restrictions, and many high-risk senior citizens had to spend it alone. Junior Taylor Hsu decided to help out by delivering meals to them.

“I wanted the senior citizens [to] know that there are people looking after them because I don’t know what their situation is like, family-wise,” Hsu said. “I wanted to let them know that people locally are there for them.”

Hsu has worked with senior citizens before and has a special connection with the Thanksgiving dinner programs: his grandparents were in the same predicament, which is why he wanted to be involved.

“My grandparents are in the same situation [as other seniors],” Shu said. “They both live on the West Coast, and we usually spend Thanksgiving with them every year, but this year we couldn’t. We just couldn’t fly out there, so I knew what their situation was like and wanted to help out. “

Sophomore Bella Boyajian and her sister, junior Lily Boyijian, are also giving back to the community this year. The Boyajians started a diaper and toy drive to give back to foster kids from the Department of Children and Families in Framingham.

Bella started the toy drive on Nov. 30. The goal the family set was to fill at least five large bags of toys. However, the drive reached more than ten bags.

“For me, the best part of giving back to the community is being able to give gifts to kids who aren’t as fortunate, and I love doing it,” Bella said.

For me, the best part of giving back to the community is being able to give gifts to kids who aren’t as fortunate, and I love doing it.”

— Bella Boyajian

The drive had multiple locations where people can drop off toys. Some of the locations were the Boyajian’s home (reserved for their close friends), Arté Salon and Spa in Wayland and Wayland Pack and Ship. The drive concluded Wednesday, Dec. 16th, and the Boyajians will take the bags of toys to the DCF where the toys will be wrapped and delivered to foster children.

“You can buy toys from anywhere. [It] doesn’t matter if it’s one toy or a few. Anything helps,” Bella said.

The Boyajian family has always enjoyed giving back to the community. For a couple of years, the Boyajians fostered multiple children, which helped inspire them to start the drive. Lily believes the drive was helpful in making the foster kids feel a part of their foster family, which she thinks is especially important during the holidays.

“I can’t imagine what it’s like being in foster care, but whenever we had kids, we wanted to make them feel at home,” Lily Boyajian said. “My parents did a really good job of treating them the same as us. So we want to try and help other families and foster kids feel nice around the holidays and during [COVID-19].”

For Lily, the kids’ reactions when they receive the gifts is the driving force that keeps her participating.

“My favorite part [of the drive] is how all [the toys] go to kids who need them,” Lily said. “I just hope it makes them happy.”

My favorite part [of the drive] is how all [the toys] go to kids who need them. I just hope it makes them happy.”

— Lily Boyajian

As the drive came to an end, Bella wanted people to know how important it is to give back, especially this year.

“This toy drive is especially important this year [because] of COVID-19. Many parents have lost jobs, and the amount of children in foster care is very high,” Bella said. “So really, even one small gift helps a lot.”

Although Hsu and Bella and Lily Boyajian recruited other volunteers and took the center stage in helping their charities, the WHS students that took up the offer were just as keen to give back. Hsu saw this in his classmates when he called upon them to help deliver Thanksgiving meals when he sent out a Facebook group message.

“The thing I enjoyed most was [how] my classmates reached out to me and wanted to [participate], because it gave me a sense that people at school really care about this thing and that they are truly good and genuine people and just want to help out,” Hsu said.