Kids at Sag Harbor Elementary Make It a Charitable Winter

From left, Emma Golden, Jeffrey Gregor, Bennett Greene, and Kyle Seltzer are second graders who selected mittens from the Mitten Line to help community members in need.

Kids at Sag Harbor Elementary have been busy making the holiday season a warm one filled with joy for people in need of some extra help.

The school participated for the second year in a Kids Need Warmth coat drive during November. The coat drive was inspired by two sisters who are students, Marina and Nola Hollyer, who created a character, Buddy the Cuddle Monster, as part of a coat drive campaign they started last year. This year, the school combined efforts to collect hundreds of gently used coats and jackets to be donated to the Retreat, the domestic violence shelter in East Hampton.

The Mitten Line, a tradition for at least 20 years, has also returned at Sag Harbor Elementary. The Mitten Line is a gift drive in which people who are in need of extra help this holiday season can write their gift wishes on paper mittens, which are then hung on lines in the school's main hallway. Examples of wishes include toys, art supplies, and winter clothing items. Students and their families who want to participate in the Mitten Line can then select a mitten and fulfill that wish, working with the school's guidance office. The gift drive kicked off on Dec. 1 and runs through Dec. 16. Gift delivery begins Dec. 18.

Michelle Grant, the school's guidance counselor, who has coordinated the Mitten Line for the last 16 years, said the goal is to encourage children to ask their parents to fulfill a wish of another child instead of one of his or her own holiday wishes.

"The kids really get very excited about it," Ms. Grant said. "Before the mittens are even up, they're talking about it. I think the biggest thing they learn about it is it's important to give even if it means missing out on something themselves. . . . I really think they understand it and get something out of it."

Ms. Grant said the Mitten Line once helped around 15 children but has grown over the years, and this year includes 45 children with holiday wishes that need to be fulfilled. She said community members at large can also participate by visiting the elementary school during normal school hours to take a mitten and deliver the gift

At Pierson Middle and High School, the Middle School Student Council set up a Giving Tree in the main entrance. Students who want to participate can pick a card from the tree and return it to the student council's adviser, Eileen Caulfield, with the corresponding gift card.

"The middle school students felt really good about the Mitten Line and wanted to bring that feeling to the middle school and high school," said Katy Graves, Sag Harbor's superintendent.