A common sight as the holiday season nears, National Honor Society (NHS) members have been spotted hurriedly carrying around brown envelopes, approaching and asking for monetary donations from peers. Since early October, the NHS has been collecting funds for its annual Christmas orphanage toy drive. Every winter, NHS members collect donations from the student body and purchase Christmas gifts for orphans at the Chungwoon Orphanage. The project aims to encourage SIS students to engage in the holiday spirit of sharing, specifically by providing less-fortunate children the warmth of Christmas gift-giving.
“The purpose of this drive is to let the children know that while their circumstances are different than most people in this country, they’re not any less Korean and they’re not any less human being as a result of those circumstances,” said Gray Macklin, NHS adviser. “At least one of the ways we can communicate that is by giving them presents and letting them know that there are people who care about them. Part of being normal is believing that you can be, rather than walking around and feeling like there’s a huge strike against you in life because you don’t have parents.”
Though the toy drive is an annual event hosted by the NHS, the fundraising process is modified and executed through new methods every year. Traditionally, funds have been collected exclusively through members directly asking peers for cash donations, a method that many members felt created a large disconnect between the cause and the donors. Following numerous club meetings and discussions, the executives decided to revise the traditional fundraising plan to meet such concerns. Rather than only verbally asking for donations, the club also hosted food sales, held unique fundraising events, and made increased publicity efforts.
“Frankly, last year, I didn’t know much about the NHS toy drive, and I just saw it as an event where people go around asking for money,” said Paul Kim (11), a new NHS member. “This year, however, there were events allocated for publicity, such as putting up posters containing statistics about orphans, as well as events allocated for fundraising, such as the taping of Mr. Miller to a wall. Overall, I think the school community got much more involved in the fundraising process, and it not only helped raise money, but also made more people aware of our purpose.”
The month-long process of preparation involved multiple steps and challenges, beginning with NHS members researching the conditions and statistics of orphans in Korea in order to more sincerely understand and seek full sympathy regarding the project’s purpose. Once the researching and planning stage was complete, members faced the challenge of sharing this empathy and findinng ways to receive donations of genuine interest from their peers. In groups, however, NHS members planned and carried out their respective activities that amounted to a total of 69 orphans given Christmas gifts. The toy drive culminates in the annual trip to the Chungwoon Orphanage on Dec. 14, where members get to meet and directly give the gifts to the orphans.
“There were certainly challenges and disagreements initially, especially regarding the price of the presents,” said Yoobin Lee (12), NHS Executive Managing Officer. “It was frustrating to see how reluctant students were to donate; one small monetary sacrifice could make all the difference for a child at the orphanage. Still, as an executive, I was extremely proud of the members’ efforts to pull these numerous fundraisers off for the first time in NHS. The members’ efforts really shined through and I hope this hard work and determination continues into the next year.”