Students give lesson in brotherly love
A 2 foot tall plush bunny, perfect for someone in the kindergarten set, peeks out of a gaily decorated paper bag. In a nearby sack, there’s a new child’s game, still encased in plastic, a candlemaking set, and a small metal storage box filled with candy.
Several young women, all high school seniors, huddle over the bags brimming with toys, pastel colored toiletries, and staples such as diapers and shaving cream.
In this season of light and laughter, the students are taking on the role of teachers, instructing the less fortunate and many others in upper Bucks County in the lessons of brotherly love.
When men, women and children gather for a gala holiday meal at the soup kitchen of the Richland Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Quakertown tonight, the students will get to play Santa.
Marie Sauter and yo timberland outlet ung people in her health occupations classes at the Upper Bucks County Vocational Technical School will share 60 bags of necessities such as toothpaste, shampoo, razors, shaving cream, socks and soaps with needy individuals and families from the Pennridge, Quakertown and Palisades areas.
The toys are destined for children whose parents can’t afford playthings.
“My feeling is that this kind of lesson is essential,” Sauter said Monday, as her students checked and rechecked the contents of each bag. “Being aware of what other people go through, the hardships they face, builds empathy.” And empathy, she said, is the foundation of any health professional’s resume.
This is the fourth year Sauter’s students have collected toiletries for guests of the soup kitchen, which is in the Quaker meeting house in Quakertown. Mary Miller, the vocational technical school’s agriscience teacher, volunteers at the soup kitchen and told Sauter of an annual holiday meal. Sauter, in turn, came up with the idea of the “personal hygiene bags” filled with toothpaste, shampoo and other toiletries.
“A lot of people don’t have extra money for socks and other things we take for granted,” Sauter said. “We buy these little things so they have money for necessities like utility bills.
“Nothing that we give is extraordinary. All we give is timberland outlet basic necessities that we hope will timberland outlet help out,” she said.
Sauter’s students collected cash from students in othe timberland outlet r academic programs at the vocational school in Bedminster Township. With the $350 they collected, they went shopping Saturday at the Quakertown Wal Mart, filling five shopping carts with everything from soap to shampoo. The Wal Mart on Route 309 in Hilltown Township contributed several boxes of children’s clothing and other items, Sauter said.
For vo tech senior Jamie Petrello, collecting the toiletries opened her eyes to the plight of people who live paycheck to paycheck or run out of money at the end of the month.
“If you spend all your money on rent, you can’t afford other things things we take for granted,” she said.
Sauter’s students prepared 30 bags filled with toiletries for women, 30 bags of toiletries for men, and five bags filled with toiletries and toys for children. That represents a 50 percent increase over the number of bags Sauter’s students prepared last year, a jump that Sauter attributes to the listless economy.
The need shatters the myth that poverty is seen only in cities, Sauter said.
“The numbers of needy people in our area is up, and I think it is good for our students to see these things are for people from our own communities,” she said.