Holiday Spirit Transcends Pandemic

The stretch between the end of Thanksgiving Break and the start of Winter Break at Loomis Chaffee is typically chock full of community engagement activities across the Island campus.

Although this year all classes and activities are online during this period due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the holiday spirit endures across the Loomis community as students, faculty, and staff have continued to find ways to engage in seasonal giving and connect with community members before the start of Winter Break on December 18.   

Efforts to support those in need in the local community during the holiday season are coordinated by Heather Henderson, director of Loomis’ Community Engagement program, with assistance from students in after-school activities and other volunteers.

Continuing the school’s annual tradition, many Loomis groups and organizations, including departments, offices, student clubs, faculty families, and the Loomis Chaffee Parents Association, worked together to collect donations — largely of gifts cards this year — to support local families through the Project Santa and Holiday Help community initiatives. Additionally, dozens of student-made quilts and fleece blankets were included in the donated gifts. For many years Loomis has supported Holiday Help, which is organized by Windsor Social Services to aid town residents, many of whom are seniors living alone. Project Santa is an initiative organized by Grace Episcopal Church, Windsor Chamber of Commerce, and First Town Downtown in Windsor and helps local families with children celebrate the holidays by providing items on family gift wish lists.

Before Thanksgiving Break, the Pelican Service Organization hosted a fun gingerbread house-building weekend event. As a way to safely send holiday greetings to the school’s senior citizen neighbors, the festively decorated gingerbread houses were delivered to six area organizations and residences that serve seniors.

A dozen red scarves knit by students in the Community Engagement programs Knitting Happiness and Knifty Knitters were shipped to Foster Care to Success, a national nonprofit that supports young people in the foster care system, for the organization’s Red Scarf Project, which sends care packages to vulnerable young adults.

Students in Girls Lead, an after-school activity offered through the Community Engagement program, designed holiday messages to be included with a Weekend Wheels food delivery, a supplemental food program that helps Windsor families with children.

In the interest of pandemic safety, the student-led Connecticut Children’s Club proceeded with its annual toy drive this December by asking school community members to make toy donations directly to the Connecticut Children’s Hospital via an online site. The club made a video appeal and shared information in Daily Bulletin posts.