January 02, 2018
Kayley Simon and her classmates packed a whole lot of love into a single shoe box and what started out as an idea to give gifts to others less fortunate instead of exchanging with classmates turned into a class project that taught the true meaning of the season.
Kayley, 11, is a sixth grade student at Windsor Preparatory School in western New Providence. Shortly before the holidays, Kayley wrote to her teacher, Mrs. Courtnee Romer, sharing her excitement about the holidays, telling her she could “hardly wait to see the bright lights and the awesome Christmas trees all beautifully decorated.”
She confessed she was especially excited about opening her presents and then she stole her teacher’s heart with these words: “As we at Windsor prepare to have our Christmas celebrations, I can’t help but think of all those children who are less fortunate than I. That’s why this year, I would like to share an idea for a Christmas initiative called ‘A Box of Smiles.’ This year, I would like to invite my class to help me give to the children at The Children’s Emergency Hostel. It would be nice to help put a smile on their faces. Instead of exchanging gifts, we can use the money ($25-$30) to buy small items that can fit into a box, the size of a shoe box. Some of the items can be coloring books, boxes of crayons, card games, pencils, pens, erasers, small toys etc. Each student will decorate and fill their own box personalized for one child at the Hostel.”
She also asked if each student in the class could make a Christmas card with a note to the recipient and include it in the box. She offered to decorate a drop box and with the teacher’s permission, she would start the collection process. “All of us have so much to be thankful for and I believe that it would be so beautiful to make this Christmas a very special one for these children,” Kayley wrote and her teacher’s approval was instant.
Over 20 shoe boxes from just about all of her classmates came pouring in along with cards and gifts and on December 18, one week before Kayley would be opening her own presents in a family home with a mother, father and two siblings. Kayley and her mom delivered the gifts to children who would not be spending that special day of the year like the Simons but would know that someone – many someones – remembered them and cared. They would know that the season meant love.
That’s a wrap – 11-year-old Kayley Simon, far right, and friends, l-r, Selena Mingo, Madison Seivright and Galia Curry put bows and ribbons on gifts for youngsters at the Children’s Emergency Hostel. They all attend Windsor Preparatory School where Kayley, a 6th grader, came up with the idea of gathering gifts that could fit into a shoe box and calling it a Box of Smiles, making sure that others less fortunate had something special to smile about this Christmas.
Ready, Set, Let’s Go – Windsor Preparatory School students l-r, Selena Mingo, Kloe Carey, Galia Curry, Emma Turnquest, Kayley Simon and Vivian Charles, show shoe boxes filled with presents and wrapped for the holidays as they prepare to head from school to the Children’s Emergency Hostel.
A moment to care, a story to share – 11-year-old Kayley Simon reads to the children at the Children’s Emergency Hostel after she and her mom, Cherry Simon, delivered presents.
Special delivery – Kayley Simon, 11, delivers shoe boxes filled with presents for youngsters at the Children’s Emergency Hostel where Assistant Administrator Lessie Smith accepts on behalf of residents who met Kayley while she read with them a short while later. Kayley came up with the idea for Boxes of Smiles, filling shoe boxes with crayons, small toys and other presents instead of exchanging gifts in her 6th grade class at Windsor Preparatory School. The teacher read Kayley’s touching letter and the initiative was a total success. Now Kayley wants to keep it going.