December waves of kindness: Hennessey delivers 120 gifts to Children’s Hospital

December brought many acts of kindness to our elementary, to our community and to the children’s hospital in San Antonio. It started with an at-home project that concentrated on ways to spread kindness. Families were given a large paper “light” ornament in which they were encouraged to decorate with their child(ren) and brainstorm ways to be kind. These were returned to school. I then hung these down the main hallway where everyone could see them. Families did a great job thinking of ways to be kind and the kids really enjoyed seeing all of them in the hallway.
Another huge act of kindness was accomplished by a local 6th grader, Mackenzie Hennessey. Mackenzie has been trying for the last couple of years to donate presents to the Children’s Hospital in San Antonio. She continues to be treated there for Crohn’s Disease and has always had a generous soul and a heart for wanting to serve others. She contacted last year to find a way to take presents to children in the hospital but because of Covid no one was accepting outside gifts. This November, she contacted me again, looking for ideas and assistance. The Children’s Hospital was accepting gifts. I reached out to my generous friends who were more than willing to support her cause. Mackenzie did all the work, assembling over 120 gifts, each labeled with an age group. They contained coloring books, word searches, fuzzy socks, crayons, small toys, stuffed animals and other related items.
Well, Mackenzie got the biggest surprise of all when Japhanie Gray, from KSAT12 called and wanted to interview her for a news story. So, on December 9th, Mackenzie, her grandmother, Kathy Hennessey and I sat down for an interview with Japhanie. The story aired that evening which is the same day she delivered her gifts to the children’s hospital. What a wonderful heart she has! She’s already planning for Easter.

8th grade Colts
8th grade Fillys

Now, probably the most enjoyable “kindness” activity every year is when the 8th grade Colts and Fillys bring gifts to a particular grade level. Kandi Darnell and I were trying to figure out how long we’ve been doing this and we aren’t sure, maybe 8 years? Maybe longer. It started when Shana Beaty contacted me that they wanted to do something different for the “Fillys” Christmas party. Instead of exchanging gifts with each other, they wanted to gift kids here at the elementary. Well, it is so much fun and so heartfelt!! I don’t know who gets more out of it, the big, tough 8th grade boy or girl or the 6 or 7 year old child. I know the excitement is palatable and the big kids love seeing not only the elementary kids but also maybe their elementary teacher. The teachers also love seeing their ex-students all grown up. The gifts aren’t even expensive ones, and the kids love everything they get. This is one tradition I hope continues for a very long time.
The elementary staff also collected gifts for the local brown Santa program. I know those gifts were very much appreciated by the program.
Coming in February, my at-home project will be a large heart with the words “I will be a friend by…” and families can initiate conversations about what it means to be a friend. These will be decorated and hung down the main hallway.
I hope December brought some waves of kindness your way as well and wish everyone a blessed 2022.
By Stephanie Kohlleppel, Ciavarra Elementary School Counselor

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