Gateway: News

A culture built on sharing and caring

Student Finn Miller, 9, places donated toys on the stage last week at Harbor Heights Elementary School’s 16th annual Sharing and Caring assembly. A mountain of donated non-perishable food, toys and clothes took up the school’s stage.
Student Finn Miller, 9, places donated toys on the stage last week at Harbor Heights Elementary School’s 16th annual Sharing and Caring assembly. A mountain of donated non-perishable food, toys and clothes took up the school’s stage. lgiles@gateline.com

The Sharing and Caring Assembly is a holiday tradition for the families and staff at Harbor Heights Elementary.

The school celebrated its 16th annual event Dec. 10 with a holiday program that displayed the more than 4,000 items donated for local charities.

The donation drive is such a holiday fixture that many families continue to participate even when they no longer have students at Harbor Heights, said Principal Nikki Hittle.

“They love it,” Hittle said of the donation drive. “The kids come in so excited they’re bouncing off the walls, saying, ‘I have something (to donate).’ It makes them feel like a leader.”

4,000 items were collected for donation to local charity organizations

Shea Sullivan — in his first year as counselor for Harbor Heights — said that the donation drive mirrors many of the lessons he’s been teaching students in their classes, lessons about compassion and empathy.

“We create change in ourselves when we help others,” Sullivan said at the assembly. “Awareness promotes change.”

The assembly was lead by student leadership, which took turns sharing with the audience what “sharing and caring” meant to them.

“It makes me feel wonderful that a family will have presents under their tree because of Harbor Heights,” said student leader Abbi Johnson.

Joey Hughes, another student leader, added: “With all these donations you just changed a kid’s Christmas.”

The assembly featured musical performances from the second grade classes and the kindergarten class, which performed “The More We Get Together.”

It makes me feel wonderful that a family will have presents under their tree because of Harbor Heights.

Abbi Johnson, student leader

The donations included non-perishable food, toys and clothes and were divided between the Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH, The Children’s Home Society and Key Peninsula Community Services.

Kevin Jacobson from FISH and Andrea Hanson from the Children’s Home Society represented their organizations at the assembly.

“We always look forward to this time of year,” Jacobson said. “You guys are so special to us. We appreciate your generosity.”

Hanson agreed: “I’m amazed at the generosity you guys have demonstrated. We appreciate and are overwhelmed with the support you guys have given.”

Hittle said that the donation drive began in November and swung into full gear in the beginning of December.

“The kids are getting that sense of building themselves and building a community,” Hittle said. “We are constantly talking about character building.”

According to Shea Sullivan, a member of one of the charitable organizations told him that the Peninsula School District was the most active district they’ve seen in caring for their community.

Sullivan is amazed at the generosity of the families at Harbor Heights and at how ingrained this assembly is in the school’s culture.

A member of one of the charitable organizations told Sullivan that the Peninsula School District — out of all the other school districts they work with — is the most active in caring for their community.

“I kinda stepped into a rich tradition here,” he said.

Student Cameron Peterson summed up the assembly and donation drive with her simple statement: “We’re children helping children, friends helping friends, working together to make the world a better place.”

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

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