Each year, Medfield's Blake Middle School 8th graders volunteer at Christmas in the City, an all-volunteer effort to provide a festive holiday for children in need and their mothers.
According to the CITC website, the event now includes more than 3,000 guests, an enormous amount of games and rides (including numerous bouncy houses), day-long entertainment, haircuts for moms, great food, visiting celebrities, artificial snow and real trees, visits with Santa, and a special gift for each gift from his or her personal wish list.
This is Medfield eighth graders’ biggest community service project which includes fundraising in the fall to raise money to purchase presents for the CITC children – a student versus teacher basketball game that raised enough money to purchase 40 gifts valued at $50 each -- and then spending one full school day at the Boston Convention Center to help set up the event.
Blake teachers Ellen McConnell (English), Jason Heim (science), and Erin Kearney (math) have helped organize the event for the last 10 years.
“We’re kind of the behind-the-scenes crew,” said Heim. “We unload the crates and organize it. We pull it out, clean it, and then we start getting into the real setup.”
The students are divided into separate groups that focus on different tasks like setting up moonwalks, painting wood Christmas trees, setting up tables and chairs, etc.
This year, Medfield was the only school to help with setup.
“Sometimes there are other schools but there weren’t this year,” said McConnell.
“It’s a testament to the kids of this town,” Heim said. “When these kids get there, they are so good; they’re outstanding and they work really hard. They really have an understanding of why they’re down there.”
Organizers say the CITC tradition is an important part of the middle school curriculum.
“We feel it’s important that students participate in community service and so every grade at Blake has community service projects,” said McConnell.