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  • Writer's pictureBailey Drake and Lilly Shelton

Giving something back gets the best outcomes

Southampton Academy has participated in the “Giving Tree” project since 2012, collecting various items for those in need. The project is school-wide, gaining help from students, parents, faculty and staff. The project was first initiated by Mrs. Debbie Johnson and the Upper School Student Government. Mrs. Peggy Allen, a long time staff member of the school, has been the frontrunner for the project for several years and is specifically passionate for the cause. After Mrs. Johnson’s retirement in 2020, Mrs. Allen wanted to make sure that the special tradition continued.

"The Giving Tree receives more and more items each year as the excitement grows after the children learn what the tree’s purpose is all about," shared Allen. "The tree becomes a beauty all on its own with the wonder of Christmas joy as the children decorate each day.” At the beginning of December, a Christmas tree is displayed in the front office of the school and becomes the collection site for items to be brought in during the month. Before school lets out for Christmas break, the items are delivered to the Southampton County Social Services Office. Southampton Academy continued to be extremely generous in 2021 and brought in several items to the point of an overflow for the Social Services office. When asked where the overflow items were given, Ms. Peggy Cheek, head of the office, said that “each item found its way to someone with a need.”

Various Raiders volunteered with the project and enjoyed giving help to those in need. Sixth grade student, Chaney Hutto, said that she helped with the project “because some people don’t get the things we do, so I gave people things.” Seventh grader, Lauren Johnson, described that she helped because “it makes me feel good to help people.” Sixth graders, Winston White and Eric Russell helped load items, with Eric adding that “it was fun and for a good cause.”

The SA Giving Tree is an annual project Raiders look forward to every year and one that will continue to make a difference in the community and beyond. Mrs. Peggy Allen described the purpose of the project perfectly, “The best part of the Southampton Academy Giving Tree is…it teaches life lessons to students, i.e.,it is better to give than to receive, to know there are persons less fortunate who do not have means to buy toothpaste, soap, shampoo, toys, books, etc., how to care for others when giving. How to put others before self. The SA Giving Tree is more than just a tree…it symbolizes the true meaning of Christmas.”

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