Every year, for the past 14 years, students in teacher Margaret Brongo’s Life Skills class at Churchville-Chili High School have handcrafted decorative holiday favors — from snowmen and angels to elves and penguins — and donated the money raised to local charities. In 2018, the students created and sold 319 colorful holiday gnome beanbags. They proudly presented a check for $1,122.41, along with a variety of farm “wishlist” items, to Homesteads for Hope Community Farm.
The five high school students worked together on the annual project, creating the gnomes with brightly colored felt and rice; even learning how to use a new sewing machine. Then they went to work creating marketing materials, selling, taking orders and collecting money from customers around the district’s schools. Finally, students researched different local charitable organizations. They chose Homesteads for Hope (H4H) to benefit from their hard work.
A field trip was scheduled for students and school staff to visit the farm and personally present their donation. Homesteads’ Program Coordinator Rebecca Bruno and office manager Carolyn Eberhart welcomed students and gave them a tour of the campus. Board President and Founder Jennyrae Brongo met with the young people in the greenhouse, where daffodils were already blooming. She told the group the story of the farm and of her brother, Chucky Brongo, who has autism and inspired her to create this special place for people of all abilities.
Since 2005, Life Skills students have donated more than $12,350 to organizations, including the Golisano Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House Charities, American Cancer Society, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Honor Flight, Make a Wish, Lollypop Farm, American Red Cross, School of the Holy Childhood, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Camp Smile, The Dream Factory and Gigi’s Playhouse.