The gift of giving: students spread holiday spirit through volunteer work

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Photo contributed by Nikhil Arora ’22

Nikhil Arora ’22 and members of Team Westport collecte perishable food items and bags of groceries for the Gillespie Center, a local emergency shelter.

The dawn of the holiday season inspires a giving spirit prevalent throughout the Staples community, as many students partner with local organizations to aid efforts to deliver holiday magic beyond their familial circle.

Sisters Chloe Tait ’26 and Emmah Tait ’24 often volunteer together, and while the pair love to work side by side, they discover greater joy upon considering the greater impact of their work and in providing assistance to others.

“Volunteering brings me joy because I get to help those who are in need of things,” Chloe Tait said. “I often think about how people will feel when little acts of kindness reach them.”

Through the Westport chapter of the National Charity League (NCL), a national philanthropic organization of mothers and daughters committed to community service, the sisters have helped to collect donated gifts and volunteered with various local charities and organizations. 

Most recently, the two have dedicated hours to creating holiday themed cards, letters and care boxes for the Westport Center for Senior Activities

“I really enjoy crafting,” Emmah Tait said. “It makes me feel good that I can turn a hobby into a way of being able to help out people in my community.”

With her Water Rats teammates, Danielle Schwartz ’25 gathered Thanksgiving-themed food for the swim team’s annual food drive for Bridgeport Rescue Mission.

“The pandemic has impacted the supply of items at the pantry that help low income families and the homeless,” Schwartz said. “We hoped to help lessen a major problem. By giving back to the community, we’re doing good for people who are in need.”

The pandemic has impacted the supply of items at the pantry that help low income families and the homeless. We hoped to help lessen a major problem. By giving back to the community, we’re doing good for people who are in need.”

— Danielle Schwartz '25

Altogether, the group collected 880 pounds of food for the pantry, which accounted for 735 Thanksgiving meals provided to families in Fairfield County. 

Alongside fellow members of Team Westport, Nikhil Arora ’22 collected 400 bags of perishable food items for the Gillespie Center, a local emergency shelter. The volunteer organization also collected $1,852 in monetary donations for Homes With Hope

“During these times where we’re supposed to show our gratitude for everything, it made me feel good knowing that I helped people who are in need,” Arora said. “I was also just glad to help out a worthy cause during Thanksgiving.”