Community and School News December 2016

Important School Dates
Winter Recess – December 26 – January 2

Kindergarten Applications
If your child was born in 2012, you’ll need to start thinking about kindergarten A.S.A.P. The application period will be from November 30, 2016 to January 13, 2017. All families, including current pre-k students, students with disabilities, and English Language Learners should submit an application if you would like your child to attend kindergarten in a public school. You must apply for kindergarten the year your child turns five. Click here to link to more information, including the 2017 Staten Island Kindergarten Directory, and other kindergarten admissions resources at siparent.com.

Second Chance Toys
Kids grow out of toys all the time, but there’s no need to just toss them in the trash. Second Chance Toys is an organization that collects gently used toys and distributes them to children in need. Their two goals are simple: by donating a gently used plastic toy, you can make a world of difference in the life of a disadvantaged child and at the same time help keep non biodegradable plastics out of our landfills (according to Second Chance, nearly 14 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level).

Second Chance Toys has teamed up with several organizations this holiday season to host Operation Toy Drive NYC. On December 10, Uber will pick up your gently used plastic toys free of charge between 10am and 4pm. For more information, click here and scroll down to “Operation Toy Drive NYC.”

Annual Toy Drive
For the past 37 years, Staten Islander Victoria Ferrara has honored her son Michael by holding a Memorial Fund Toy Drive for terminally ill children residing at the Ronald McDonald House in Manhattan while they receive medical treatment. Dubbed “The House That Love Built,” the Ronald McDonald House hosts some 84 patients and their families for free or a nominal fee, enabling them to give their children the love, encouragement, and family attachment needed at an extremely difficult time.

Michael Ferrara, a Tottenville High School alumnus, passed away at the age of 18, after a year-long battle with leukemia. “I just wanted (and still want) to make the children smile and be happy and, hopefully, take some pain away for a little while,” explains his mother, Victoria.

Because of the risk of infection is high due to low white blood cell counts, donations should be new items only. Suggestions for appropriate gifts for ages, infant through 21 years old, are: toys, board games, hand-held electronic games, coloring books w/crayons, stuffed animals, dolls, sports equipment, DVDs, comfortable clothing, slippers, blankets & lap throws, gloves, scarves, hats, bandanas, baseball caps, etc. Monetary donations are also gladly accepted. Checks or money orders may be made out to the Michael Ferrara Memorial Fund, mailed to c/o Victoria Ferrara, 838 Rathbun Avenue, Side Door, Staten Island, NY 10309. Deadline is December 16. A trust fund account is already set up for this purpose. You can contact Ms. Ferrara for more information, by email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-356-2661.

Click here for a list of additional toy drives.

Kids Night on Broadway
A night at the theatre isn’t just for grown-ups anymore. Kids Night on Broadway lets kids under 18 see a Broadway show for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult. It also includes family-friendly restaurant deals, special offers, events and activities. This year, Kids Night on Broadway will take place on Tuesday, February 28. Tickets go on sale on December 6 at 10:30am. Be sure to save your appetite! Many Times Square area eateries will offer specials for Kids’ Night on Broadway ticket-holders, including free entrees for kids. Click here for a list of participating shows, how to get tickets, and more information, visit siparent.com.

Where to Turn
Staten Islanders are a generous bunch, and there’s no greater evidence of that than with the wonderful local organization Where to Turn. Where to Turn is a Staten Island-based non-profit organization which runs various drives and clean-up efforts throughout the year in an effort to promote the beautification of the borough, as well as provide assistance to those in need. Their initiatives often rely on the generosity of volunteers, many of which are local students. Below are some of their current programs:

• Neighborhood Cleanups: Neighborhood cleanups include litter and weed removal. The Where to Turn Clean Team works locations during the week and hosts a major cleanup every Sunday morning.
 E-Waste Pickup for Seniors: Seniors and the disabled who cannot get their items to the curb can call their Councilman and Where to Turn will arrange a pickup of any electronic items that need to be disposed.
• Graffiti Cleanups: Where to Turn does weekly cleanups on Saturday mornings with the NYPD, alternating between the four precincts on Staten Island.
• Holiday Toy Drive: Where to Turn is collecting toys for the Holiday Toy Store which will distribute toys to Staten Island children in need. Toys can be dropped off at 150-L Greaves Lane.
• Backpacks for Foster Kids: Where to Turn has partnered with The Staten Island Giving Circle and is currently collecting toiletries, socks, new stuffed animals and underwear for young foster kids. The items will be placed into backpacks and distributed to foster kids in need.
• Prom Dresses for All: Where to Turn collected and distributed over 300 dresses last season, and will continue to collect prom dresses all year for the next prom season. Dresses can be dropped of at 150-L Greaves Lane. Dresses and gowns are also available for local school and community theater groups.
• Snow Shoveling for Seniors: Where to Turn recruits student volunteers every year, each of whom adopts one of the 2,500 seniors registered and shovels for them free of charge when it snows. Over 5,000 seniors have been helped since the program began. Registration is ongoing.

If you or your child is interested in donating your time or other resources to Where to Turn, call 718-966-6531 or email [email protected] for more information. Community service credit may be given to students who contribute. Click here to visit the Where to Turn website.

Freezin’ for a Reason!
Forget Christmas in July—how about some swimming in December? The 10th annual Staten Island Polar Plunge is set for Sunday, December 5, when participants will brave the icy waters of South Beach to raise money for the athletes of the Special Olympics. This year welcomes some exciting new changes to the Plunge, including a Spectator Spot for friends and family to view the event. Not a fan of freezing your fanny off? You can still support the Special Olympics by donating. Click here for more information on donating or joining the Plunge at siparent.com.

Send a Letter, Grant a Wish
There’s no better way to kick off the Christmas season than with a letter to Santa – especially when it’s for a great cause. Now through December 24, bring a letter addressed to Santa to Macy’s and drop it into the big red letterbox, send a letter online at macys.com/believe, or create a letter using the new Macy’s Wish Writer stylus and app and for each letter received, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1,000,000. Help spread the word about the Believe campaign by taking a photo or video of your child mailing their letter and sharing it on social media using the hashtag #SantaProject.

On December 9, Macy’s stores nationwide will celebrate National Believe Day with special celebrations. The Believe campaign is based on The New York Sun’s famous “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” editorial. Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, granting 270,000 wishes for sick children since 1980. Since 2003, Macy’s has raised over $100 million for the Make-A-Wish foundation to date. Click here to learn more and to get your kids started writing their own letter.

Holiday Happenings
It’s time to trade out your turkeys for tinsel! The holidays are here and we want to make sure you make the most of the season with your family. Go to siparent.com/holiday-happenings to get the scoop on holiday fairs, tree farms, charity opportunities, local holiday events, crafts, and so much more! Bookmark the page and check back regularly, as we will be updating it throughout the season.

The Big Apple Awards
Think your child’s teacher is the cream of the crop? Nominate ‘em for a Big Apple Award! The Big Apple Awards are bestowed annually upon New York City’s most outstanding teachers. This year 200+ teachers will be named District Finalists, receive an interview and/or classroom visit from their superintendent teams, and be invited to join the citywide Teacher Excellence Network. You only have until December 9 to nominate your favorite teacher, so don’t miss out. It’s a wonderful way to show your appreciation for the important role he or she has made in your child’s life. Click here to link to a nomination form. Good luck to all of Staten Island’s fantastic teachers!

New School on the North Shore
The Department of Education and the School Construction Authority recently announced the plan to begin building a new 790 seat school, currently being designed as a PS/IS, on the old Victory Van Lines site at 357 Targee Street. This new school will help alleviate some of the overcrowding at both PS 13 and PS 78, both of which are approximately 160 percent over capacity.

A Van for Aiden
Six-year-old Aiden from Great Kills has an unusual wish on his list this year. Aiden is a triplet who was born with spastic quad cerebral palsy, a highly debilitating condition which has left him unable to sit up, stand, roll over, talk, walk, feed himself, dress himself, or even scratch an itch. His disability hasn’t broken his spirit, and according to his family, his “sweet smile, contagious laugh, and big brown eyes will win your heart in an instant.” The family of seven – five children, including two with special needs – is in desperate need of a wheelchair accessible van for Aiden and is asking for your help. If you’d like to help Aiden get around with his family, you can donate at here. We hope your wish comes true, Aiden!

Shoebox of Joy
Christmas is a wonderful time for spreading joy, especially to those who need it the most. After second grade teacher Mrs. Toni Ann Tobin of Our Lady Queen of Peace noticed some residents at the Carmel Richmond Nursing Home go a whole season without a single gift or visitor, she was inspired to start the “Shoebox of Joy” project. A Shoebox of Joy is a wrapped and decorated shoebox with useful or fun specialty items to help put a smile on residents’ faces. The boxes are distributed to the seniors when students pay a visit. She asks that the children do extra chores or kind deeds to earn the money needed to buy the items. The most appreciated items are batteries, nightlights, notepads, pens, stamps, playing cards, socks and toiletries.

Mrs. Tobin feels that it’s a wonderful way to teach children that giving, not receiving, is the main idea of the Christmas season (we agree!). The project has been a huge success, and has since expanded to the entire school, and is also accepting outside donations as well. If you are interested in participating in the “Shoebox of Joy” Project, please send in your “shoebox” to Our Lady Queen of Peace School, 22 Steele Avenue, 10306, Attn: Mrs. Tobin, by December 14th.

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