Anthony Perotta’s Grade 10 Communications Technology students take part in the annual Wrapping Day. Photo courtesy of Loredana Bastasin

High school students bring Christmas cheer to needy

By  Vincent Pham, Youth Speak News
  • December 22, 2017
It was like a movie scene of elves working in Santa’s workshop.

Bows, wrapping paper and ribbon were scattered everywhere in the classrooms of Chaminade College School in Toronto.

Christmas carols played over the PA system while staff and students were busy packaging and wrapping gifts.

Everyone looks forward to Wrapping Day every year.

From Nov. 20 to Dec. 8, staff and students participated in the annual Brothers for Baskets program in which they sponsored 32 families.

Each homeroom class was entrusted with a needy family who would likely not have a Merry Christmas without assistance from outsiders.

“We had the chance to give something back to others and the chance to give someone a chance of joy during this season,” said Grade 11 student Gemner Sandoval. “Taking part in Brothers for Baskets allows me to feel grateful for the things I have, the things that are given.”

Some students hope their charitable works will make an impact on society.

“By giving to others, we allow families to connect with one another and this really helps build society,” said Grade 9 student Johann Tran.

Each homeroom is expected to put together a basket consisting of a gift worth at least $50 for each family member, including gift cards to grocery stores, brand new toys and clothing.

The homeroom teacher tells students the number of family members, their clothing sizes and the children’s ages. In the days leading up to Wrapping Day, money, toys and non-perishable foods start pouring into the homerooms.

Aileen Achong is head of Chaminade’s Theology Department and Brothers for Baskets organizer. She coordinates the program, which has been running for more than 15 years, with St. Paul’s Basilica Parish in the east end of Toronto. Most of the families who receive donations come from that area.

“The Brothers for Baskets program has become quite the tradition in the school,” said Achong.

A few days before donations are picked up, Wrapping Day takes place in all homeroom classes.

“It isn’t an easy task (co-ordinating such a program) but that’s part of what makes it so rewarding in the end,” said Loredana Bastasin, a teacher at Chaminade and co-ordinator of Brothers for Baskets.

“I feel strongly that my job as a Catholic teacher is to provide students with the opportunity to connect with God and with their calling to serve others. The Brothers for Baskets project gives students that opportunity and also the opportunity to feel good about what they are doing.“
She said Chaminade students are not hesitant to sponsor the families entrusted to them, realizing that these families may not have the best Christmas without their charitable hearts.

(Pham, 16, is a Grade 11 student at Chaminade College School in Toronto.)

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