School hosts Sanctuary holiday party


PARTY PLANNING: Fisher Dining Hall in advance of the evenings festivities

Eddie Jin

Clients from Sanctuary for Families, an organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic and gender violence, created arts and crafts and were gifted book donations from the Book Fair at the school’s 25th annual Sanctuary for Families dinner party.

Attendees at last Tuesday’s event participated in activities, such as decorating bookmarks and painting, in The Cohen Dining Common and Faculty Dining Room. Throughout the evening, the Jazz Band performed light holiday tunes.

An new addition to this year’s gift bags were children’s books. Given that the Sanctuary for Familes event coincided with the book fair this year, a few parent volunteers suggested that they donate books to the attendees, Middle & Upper Division Chair of the Library Department Caroline Bartels said.

Bartels worked with the newly founded BiblioMann, a publication that publishes book reviews, to select books to give to the attendees.

“One of my ideas when starting Bibliomann would be some service aspect with giving back to the community,” founder of BiblioMann Noah Phillips (9) said.
Judy Kluger, executive Director of Sanctuary for Families, was among the attendees.

“Many of Sanctuary’s clients come from abusive homes, meaning the holiday season can lead to tough times. This event brings a lot of cheer to them,” Kluger said.

In the past, the majority of volunteers at this event have been high school students, as the event counted towards their service learning hours, Bartels said. However, this was no longer the trend after service learning requirements demanded that students complete a project rather than fulfill a time requirement, she said.

“Ms. Hickerson’s goal was to bring the Upper Division connection back through more clubs,” Bartels said. Some of the new clubs at the event were Art Detectives, Habitat for Humanity, and Bibliomann.

However, due to an emergency, Hickerson left the execution of the event to Middle Division (MD) math teacher Tom Petras, MD science teacher Donnet Bryan, and MD history teacher Eve Abbamonte.

“In the original conception of the event, these clubs were going to run and organize some of the activities, but that didn’t work out as well as intended,” Petras said.

Ultimately, some of the clubs’ activities got canceled due to a shortage of tables.

“It’s something that will be worked out in the future,” Petras said.

As in past years, members of the Horace Mann community volunteered to staff the event.

Every year, Luis Maldonado of the Security staff dresses up as “Santa” to take pictures with the children.

“It’s nice to help out people who don’t have the same opportunities that we have,” Naren Beepat (12), a volunteer for the past four years, said.

Beepat fondly recalls his first year at the event, when a young child clung to him throughout the night, painting his arm, Beepat said.