Sometimes a holiday wish is more than a new bike or a cell phone upgrade. Sometimes a holiday wish can be food on the table, or a jacket that fits.
At Sizer School, a North Central Charter Essential School, the Sizer Elves is a longstanding tradition that has evolved over the years in response to both the needs within the Sizer community and the generosity of Sizer’s many outside supporters.
“Last year, we were able to sponsor gifts for over 50 students and siblings,” said Jenna Lavery Quigley, Sizer School Food Pantry representative and Sizer Elves Coordinator. “We try to help as many families as we can.”
Sizer School serves as many as 400 students a year from 25 local communities including Ashburnham, Westminster, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster, Lunenburg, Bolton, Stow,Lancaster, Pepperell, Ashby, Townsend, Holden, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland and Sterling. Based on its mission toknow each student personally, Sizer also works hard to fill the needs of each student not only in the classroom, but also at home.
“A student isn’t going to come up to you and say, ‘I don’t have a winter coat because my family can’t afford it’ or ‘I can’t wait for lunch because we didn’t have enough food for dinner last night.’ What you see instead is a brave face who ‘isn’t bothered by the cold’ or ‘doesn’t like coats’ or you see a student pocketing his or her daily snack for later,” said Communication & Recruitment Coordinator Lindsay Sauvageau. “This is why we have a food pantry and programs like the Sizer Elves. Because a student that is focused on trying to meet basic personal needs is not always capable of focusing on academic needs. So as a school, we want to support both.”
A list of families in need is created throughout the year by referral and through sign ups. Their needs are then transferred to gift tags hung in the Main Office of the school. Anyone wishing to participate as an Elf, takes a tag and purchases what they can for these students and/or families. All family and student information is kept strictly confidential and not given out to the community.
“If community members would like to participate as donors, they can pick a tag from the window in the main office, or email me or Lyndsie Currallo[High School Counselor] directly,” said Quigley. “If Sizer families want to sign up to receive a gift, they should email/call us directly also.”
All tags need to be signed out in the main office, and all gifts should be returned to the school (wrapped or unwrapped) no later than December 18th.
Recently the Sizer Elves and Sizer Food pantry have received the support of local organizations, individuals and businesses. SJ Markham and Sons Insurance Company in Fitchburg most recently donated $500 to Sizer for these programs and have also earmarked Sizer as a recipient of their annual food drive running now through December 18th.
“Markham and Sons has been in business in Fitchburg for 100 years and are active community supporters all year long,” said Sauvageau. “Their donations will go a long way in supporting our students.”
A second business, Dolly.com, has offered to donate and deliver free Christmas trees to Sizer families. Dolly.com is an app-driven moving company that offers a variety of moving services including heavy lifting and delivery.
In addition, Rachel Saball, a member of the extended Sizer family is a North Middlesex High School student who learned about the Sizer Food Pantry when her brother attended Sizer.
“She ran a [food] drive for us – completely on her own – for the past three years! Her current drive is running now through December13th at Ashby Elementary, Children's Garden, and Varnum Brook School,” said Quigley. “It's just really amazing that she does this!”
To participate in the Sizer Elves program or to make a donation to the program and Food Pantry, contact Lyndsie Currallo, firstname.lastname@example.org; (978) 345- 2701, ext. 421 or Jenna Lavery Quigley, email@example.com; (978) 345-2701 x425.
Sizer School, a North Central Charter Essential School, is a free public charter school located at 500 Rindge Road in Fitchburg. Applications are still being accepted, until December 31st for students in 7th and 9th grade for the 2019-2020 school year. Applications are also being accepted for the 2020-2021 school year. Visit sizer.schoolmint.net to apply today.