Community Servings (CS) is a non-profit organization, located in Jamaica Plain, which delivers approximately delivers 675,000 meals to 2,000 critically ill individuals and their families in Eastern Massachusetts (as far away as Worcester and Lawrence). Founded over 25 years ago, CS originally targeted those with AIDS/HIV, but over the past few years, it has expanded to other diagnoses. (The CS website is www.servings.org .) Prior to the holidays, CS solicits, from its clients, family holiday wish lists which are filled by individuals, schools, organizations, and businesses.
For over fifteen years, the BHS Belmontian Club has “adopted” CS families for the holidays. At the beginning, it was possible to hold frequent bake sales to fund the project. As bake sales became more popular and more clubs wanted to hold them, every club was limited to one bake sale per month, not enough to provide the revenue needed for the project. That year, the Club gathered together in the fall and brainstormed, and from a member of the class of 2003 came the idea of selling glittery plastic snowflake ornaments to students and staff to be delivered to their friends and colleagues. From humble beginnings (selling a couple hundred is my recollection), the club now regularly sells well over 1,000 snowflakes! Several years ago, the project was even on Fox News.
In November every year, the Club “adopts” nine people, this year in three families,. One family consists of two children (ages 1 and 3years old) with two adults, another has three people, one 13 year-old girl, and two adults, and the last one is comprised of two adults. The club learns nothing about them other than age, gender, and wishes, which are often very basic. Every family this year asked for winter coats and boots and hats, scarves, and/or gloves. The members decide which students will shop for which person, and with faith that snowflakes will generate enough money, they actually go out over Thanksgiving weekend and shop (most decidedly not at the high-end stores; they become wise consumers in this project), and gather to arrange the gifts in large, reusable plastic bins, which they then decorate.
Belmontians then do publicity and sell the snowflakes for two weeks after Thanksgiving ($1 each, $1.50 with a candy cane), assemble them (working on delivery schedules of hundreds of students, tying cards to snowflakes with ribbon, then sorting by delivery times), and deliver them the week before winter break.
This is the most labor-intensive project undertaken by the Club, taking many after-school man/woman hours, but it is also probably the one that contributes the most to community-building and is simply the most fun, with its serious underpinnings not ignored. Sophia Schlozman, Co-President of the Belmontian Club, explains
“Snowflakes is the event that, to me, contributes most to other people directly. We get to see the whole process from planning and shopping to fundraising, and understand how much they deserve what we are doing.”