Giving and receiving

Giving and receiving

Sara Yang

Students and staff get into the holiday spirit and donate to Community Leadership’s Giving Tree 


It’s always better to give than to receive, but some students are a little too preoccupied with receiving a beautiful report card than giving the warmth of holiday spirit. But for those who do like putting smiles on others’ faces, some gift-wrapped boxes and Community Leadership can help.

Community Leadership’s Community commission collaborated with the Cupertino Teen Commission to host the annual Giving Tree on Nov. 1-14.  Rather than following the traditional method of picking a card off a Christmas tree branch and getting a specific present, students bought presents that they thought a child or teenager would like and deposited them in the over-size gift-wrapped boxes in the library and the office. Donations went to West Valley Community Services, a non-profit agency that provides assistance to low-income families, for its Dec. 17 gift drive.
"We’re trying something with the Teen Commission, so we can reach out into the community," Community Commission lead sophomore Pranati Sreepathy said. "We thought that this would be a really good way to…touch directly to the community. The people that are coming to the Giving Tree are registered as low income families, [so] it’s directly focused on the community."

Because this was the first year Community Commission and Teen Commission collaborated on the event, there were a couple of logistical issues. Community Commissioners found themselves tied up, starting this project right after finishing the food drive. Due to some communication lapses, the boxes for donations were only delivered on Dec. 3, even though the event started on Dec. 1.

Despite these issues, several students found the time to donate a total of about 25 gifts. Staff members added to the donations at a Staff Club event organized by teachers Jodi Johnson and Brian Dong. Guests were to bring a gift or small donation for the giving tree, which deemed successful — the 50 attendees donated three large garbage bags of gifts to West Valley Community Services. In addition, the staff "adopts" a family every year for the holidays.

"I don’t know [if] we’ve ever really done anything community service-wise [as a staff]," Johnson said.

Community Commission also agrees that this year’s event, though a trial run, was pretty successful.

"For trying this the first time as an experiment, I think it went well," Community Commissioner sophomore Manvita Tatavarthy said. "Next year, people can build on what we did. Next year’s commission can do it how we did it, and maybe they can figure out a way to improve."

Improvement or not, many more will come to realize what Community Leadership already has. It is all about giving and receiving.