Westport Giving Tree branches full of hats, scarves, mittens


By Christine Staskiewicz

Many holiday wishes may have been granted through the help of some student  and staff "elves” at the Westport Elementary School.

The traditional holiday tree set up in the school’s lobby is actually referred to as a “Giving Tree” by students, faculty and staff.  The tree is set up the week after returning from Thanksgiving recess, but instead of the traditional ornaments, tinsel and baubles, the students and staff are asked to donate new hats, scarves, gloves and mittens to hang on the tree with the intention of distributing them to needy families and local agencies.

The bare tree quickly became adorned in an array of brightly colored hats, mittens, scarves and gloves through the generosity of Westport Elementary School families, faculty and staff.

In addition the newly formed WES student council, comprised of 4th grade officers and class representatives, spoke at each of the four lunches to solicit donations of new toys to be donated to Citizens for Citizens for distribution to families who might have difficulty affording new toys for their children.

The response from each of the grade levels was overwhelming, with many games, dolls, trucks and gadget toys donated and piled under the Giving Tree.  It was delightful to watch the children’s enthusiasm as the tree became almost unrecognizable under the weight of the many cold weather items dangling on the branches.

Scarves took on the role of garland and ribbon as they were woven among the evergreens.  Students excitedly donated toys to be placed under the tree contributing to an aura of holiday spirit in the building.  Each day, student council members checking to assess the abundance their lunchtime pleas had generated would smile and express their appreciation to their fellow schoolmates, families, and teachers who supported their efforts to create a joyful and warmer holiday for those in need.


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.