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Homeroom Teachers: The Drive Behind Our Holiday Drives

Attendance+Secretary+Catherine+Furtado+driving+students+to+canvas+houses.+
Attendance Secretary Catherine Furtado driving students to canvas houses.

Attendance Secretary Catherine Furtado driving students to canvas houses.

Attendance Secretary Catherine Furtado driving students to canvas houses.

Shruti Pai, Writer

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The holiday season is just around the corner and everyone is eagerly anticipating the peace, love, and joy it brings into the chaos of our everyday lives. However, as a Christian community, the holidays also bring a duty to help and serve the less fortunate members of our society.

The Holiday Drives that take place at Presentation are an incredible and beautiful way to directly help our brothers and sisters have a peaceful season with their loved ones, as students bring in toys, food, clothes, turkey dinners and more for Sacred Heart Community Service.

While the success of the drives is much credited to the generosity and dedication of all Pres students, none of it would be possible without the relentless time and support provided by our homeroom teachers. Whether it’s building up students’ spirit, driving them around to canvas bags, or simply leading by example, Pres girls have a lot to thank homeroom teachers for during this time of year.

Motivating students to bring in drive items can be challenging for homeroom teachers, for the conventional ways of encouraging participation can result in loss of the true meaning of the holidays. Compared to the intense, competitive spirit of Mag Drive, the Holiday Drives are fueled less by material incentives and spirit points, and more by the genuine desire to give back, and this is what our homeroom teachers are trying to instill in us this season.

“I try to have the incentive for students be the real life connection,” says junior homeroom teacher Caroline Murray. “I would hope that the mission itself of Food Drive would be motivation enough, and hopefully my encouraging them and explaining what we’re trying to do.”

Murray wants her students to learn that they should give back without the intention of getting anything in return, simply because it’s good for the community and the soul.

Senior homeroom teacher Alyssa Dickey is emphasizing this year the importance of planning and pacing yourself during the drive season. “Towards the end of the drives they start to get a little burnt out, so this year I’m going to talk about budgeting and about talking to parents about how much they can spend and how to split that budget up for the different drives.”

Finding motivation to actively participate in drives can be a challenge for teachers as well as students, for teachers must model what they expect of their homerooms. Bringing in items every day of the drives can be difficult and costly, but teachers are able to find their motivation through the spirit of giving and the charitable atmosphere of Pres.

“That’s a huge incentive for me, to feel like I’m doing my job on the planet and in our community. The fact that I’m helping people is my motivation,” says junior homeroom teacher Cynthia Ford.

Education and advocacy are other important aspects that our homeroom teachers are trying to incorporate more into the Holiday Drives this year. The drives are not meant to inspire giving just within the holiday season, but to teach students about living a charitable life and giving back year-round.

“We are trying to get students to want to volunteer long term and give back for the rest of their lives, because this is something that’s happening in our own community and there is always something we can do about it,” says Attendance Secretary and senior homeroom teacher Catherine Furtado.

A huge contribution from our homeroom teachers that students often overlook is their help with canvassing, sorting, and point tallying. Many teachers spend hours helping students go around the neighborhood to leaflet and collect bags of food, and Ford says that physically sorting through the items students bring can be the most difficult part of the drives. This behind-the-scenes action is the reason our drives can run so smoothly.

Most importantly, the homeroom teachers at Presentation inspire and motivate students during Holiday Drives simply by embodying the motto, “Not words, but deeds.” Amidst their hectic schedules and various commitments, they consistently bring in many items for the drives and go beyond just serving through Pres to reach out to the community through other organizations.

Freshman homeroom teacher Adrienne Renner takes time each year to volunteer at Sacred Heart to help disadvantaged parents find toys and gifts for their families during Christmas-time, a matter she holds very close to her heart.

“I believe that every child should get a toy for Christmas, and I know that there are children that won’t get them if it wasn’t for Sacred Heart,” she says. The dedication she has to giving children a meaningful Christmas really resonates with the Holiday Drive mission and can remind students of the real reason Pres does this each year.

“One of the ways I try and encourage students to bring stuff in is by modelling it myself,” says Murray, “I bring in stuff every day and I would do it even if I wasn’t a homeroom teacher.”

Murray also inspires students through her work with West Valley Community Services of Cupertino, helping people sign up for holiday programs that provide them and their families with meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She says it took her a long time to discover that it was good for her to sacrifice personal indulgences in order to put money and time into serving others, and leading by this example is how she wants to inspire her students to live charitably as well.

The Holiday Drives truly embody everything Presentation stands for as a school, and gives students the incredible opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. Helping another family have peace and joy during their holiday season is a gift within itself, and the homeroom teachers make it all possible. With their support and everlasting dedication to serving others, students can all try to live by the school motto, “Not words, but deeds,” and make this holiday season the most impactful one yet.

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Homeroom Teachers: The Drive Behind Our Holiday Drives