By Sophia Boxerman (Editor-in-Chief).
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” professes the classic Christmas carol. Nowhere was the holiday cheer more evident than at Casa Nueva Vida, a homeless shelter in Jamaica Plain, on the evening of December 21st.
Although the SHS Spanish club visits Casa on a monthly basis, their annual December trip is easily the most anticipated one of the year, and much of the club’s funding goes into buying Christmas gifts for the residents there.
“The planning of the trip was tedious work as we had to stay long after school ended multiple times in the weeks before our actual trip,” said junior Christian Villanueva, who has been part of the club for the past three years. “It’s definitely a challenge to organize such a big and important event, but the kids [at Casa] were really happy with what they got, and as a club member, that’s all you want to see.”
Freshman club member Juliana Dudziak says that the SHS students “spent their time talking with the families there, practicing their Spanish, and celebrating the upcoming holidays with the residents.”
“It was really nice to see not only the kids’ faces but the adults’ faces as well light up when they received their presents,” Dudziak added.
Junior Grace Leavitt says that she shares in Dudziak’s sentiments: despite the planning and hard work that “goes into making sure the kids [at Casa] have a great holiday season… [the expressions on] the kids’ faces when Santa walked in with so many gifts reminded me why I love Spanish club so much.”
Continuing a three-year-long tradition, former club president Domenic Roberto (SHS ‘15), dressed up as Santa Claus and distributed the gifts that the club had previously collected, organized, and wrapped for the families at the shelter.
Club member Tamar Stollman, a junior at SHS, says that she always has “the best time” playing with the children at Casa Nueva Vida. “Last night was especially amazing. It brings me joy when I see [the kids’] smiles and laughter,” she added.
Freshman Holly Davis says that it was “just fun to play and talk with the kids.” The evening also culminated in dance party in which SHS students and Casa residents alike eagerly participated.
Villanueva says that along with giving kids presents that they may not have received without Spanish Club’s efforts, he “feels like this trip is also about showing the kids and their families that people care about them and that they aren’t alone in the world.”
“It’s not often you get a chance to make a big difference in someone’s life,” Villanueva added. “But I’ve always felt like the Christmas presents we give to the kids at Casa almost serve as a positive means to start the new year with hope.”