Submitted by Rene Carroll
The joy of holiday giving filled the Hathaway Elementary library as excited student shoppers at the Hathaway Holiday Gift Store looked for the perfect gifts for friends and family. They made their selections from long tables of new and festive donated items including mugs, books, ornaments, toys and more.
It’s been two years since Hathaway students have had the opportunity to shop the store using “credit” received from exchanging their “Pawsitive Slips.” Students earn these reward slips by demonstrating positive behavior and characteristics. PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) is an approach utilized in schools to promote school safety and good behavior. With a focus on prevention and not punishment, it teaches children the skills they need to improve.
“The Holiday Gift Store helps all of our students learn and feel the importance and joy of giving by redeeming their Pawsitive Slips,” said Wendy Morrill, Hathaway Elementary Principal. “It’s a win, win!”
Taylar Bettis, Hathaway 5th grader, was excited to use her slips to shop for her parents’ gifts. “I like that I can surprise them by shopping on my own,” she said. Bettis earned her slips “by always trying to work really hard at school.” Her effort and this reward helped to put a mug for her dad and lotion for her mom under the tree.
The Holiday Gift Store was started six years ago by volunteer Pam Clark, who attended Hathaway in the mid-1950s and was a member of Mrs. Nystrom’s 4th grade class. “I love helping students have an opportunity to share in the giving season,” Clark said. “All of these items are collected throughout the year for this event. And some have been in storage for two years. It is wonderful to bring this experience back.”
“Nearly half of our students at Hathaway are furthest from opportunity and are unable to buy and give gifts for family or friends during the holiday season,” said Morrill. “It is wonderful to provide this service for our students.”
For many at the store this is the first time they have shopped on their own. “The fourth and fifth grade students spend a lot of time shopping and give a lot of consideration for the person they are buying for,” said Nancy Boon, Family Resource Coordinator, who was helping to manage student slip redemption. “The younger students are a little more grab and go,” she added with a chuckle.