Spirit of generosity
Islip High School Foreign Language Honor Society officers Ryan Mounce, Hannah Flynn, Matthew Marano, Junger Herazo, Caleigh DeCaprio, Zoe Camhi and Fabian Zurita, with adviser Karen Maisano, collected toys and gifts for Suffolk County children in need.

Photo by Islip School District

Spirit of generosity


ISLIP—As the holidays approached, a spirit of generosity and goodwill filled Islip High School, marking efforts big and small to give back to the community. 

The Foreign Language Honor Society collected new, unwrapped toys and gifts for children in need who live in Suffolk County, with the school community once again coming together to donate numerous gifts. James Nelson, a representative of the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, distributed the gifts directly to the children.

“We extend our sincere appreciation to all the participants in the Islip community for their generosity and support,” said FLHS adviser Karen Maisano. “Kindness is a language everyone understands.”

For the past 16 years, school nurse Janet Schlageter and social worker Donna Ruggiero have teamed up each holiday season to hold their “Mitten Tree” initiative to collect items for those less fortunate. Ruggiero and Schlageter obtain a “wish list” of presents for families in need. Each gift is written on a paper mitten and hung from a small tree in the school’s main office. Faculty and staff choose a mitten, buy the gift and return it unwrapped to the health office. The gifts are then distributed prior to the beginning of the holiday break. 

“The response is always heartwarming and a positive experience for everyone involved,” said Schlageter.  “Although the process can seem daunting at the beginning of every season, as the gifts come in, I am continually reminded of the strong community bonds that make Islip such a special place to work and live.”

Students in the high school’s life skills class were also eager to do their part in giving back to the Islip community via the preparation of food baskets. Starting in October, the class began running a muffin sale before school, with the proceeds used to purchase items for the baskets. 

“The budgeting and shopping for the baskets allows the students to work on their math, travel training and community skills while doing something nice for others,” said life skills teacher Linda Colucciello. “For Thanksgiving, the class was able to provide seven families in the community with a holiday basket.”

Additional nonperishable food items donated by the school’s Honor Society enabled the life skills class to create additional baskets for needy families through the winter season.