Viewfinder: Operation Blessing Takes Over WDHS

Members of the National Honor Society get ready to bring an early Christmas to needy families in West Deptford.

So many toys and so many hands to sort them. No, it’s not Santa’s workshop—but it looks pretty close.

Members of the National Honor Society (NHS) worked for close to three hours Friday afternoon transforming the West Deptford High School cafeteria into ground zero for Operation Blessing. Rows of tables with every toy imaginable filled the cafeteria as the students busied themselves, sorting the toys into various age categories.

“I think the toys were the best part because we got to go toy shopping,” says senior and NHS president Keriana Pfleger.

Last Tuesday, members of the NHS gathered at Toys 'R Us in Deptford to shop for needy families in the community. Students were divided and had to select toys based on their assigned age group. By the end of the trip, the NHS members filled seven carts with toys, totaling more than $1,000. All toys were bought with donations and proceeds from fundraisers like the 5K Trail Run for the Holidays.

“Most people don’t know what to buy,” Pleger says. “It’s much easier to give $20.”

Yet, toys are only one part of Operation Blessing. The districtwide initiative helps provide needy West Deptford families with everything from food to winter coats—with all schools and clubs pitching in. The high school’s student council created hygiene bags with toothbrushes, toothpaste and other toiletries. In a similar fashion, the KEY Club also made up canvas bags of nonperishable foods—enough for two for each of the 68 families expected to arrive Saturday morning.

The families receiving food, clothing and toys will begin arriving at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. Pre-scheduled times, which run at 15 minutes intervals, will help prevent the cafeteria from becoming overcrowded. A portion of the cafeteria will be sectioned off, so that children can color and visit with Santa, while parents are selecting their toys .

“I love being able to see how it’s all set up,” says NHS vice president Jack Baldwin. “It’s becoming real.”

Baldwin says time flew as the students and coordinators rushed to set up for the event, but they are now reveling in the fruits of their labor. Baldwin also agrees that shopping for toys was a highlight of participating in this initiative. He explains that for the last week about two-thirds of NHS adviser Jody Davis’ classroom has been overflowing with toys.

“I could not ask people to be more generous this year,” says Davis of the amount of monetary and tangible donations.

Davis admits that with Superstorm Sandy hitting late in October, she feared a possible shortage of donations. However, out of the seven years she and fellow NHS adviser Jennifer Stuart have directed Operation Blessing, she feels comfortable they have everything they need to accommodate every family.  

Any items left over from Saturday will be distributed throughout the community.

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