WCSD Teachers, Students Spread Holiday Cheer to Rouse Home Residents

Gifts dropped off at the Rouse Home for residents.

YOUNGSVILLE, Pa. – It’s the season of giving, and the Warren County School district is certainly showing its holiday spirit.

The Warren County Education Association, led by Eisenhower music teacher Mark Napolitan, once again organized the gift collection for the Rouse Home, something that’s become somewhat of a tradition.

“We’ve been doing it for as long as I’ve been a teacher in the district, which is over 20 years,” Napolitan said. “Louise Tharp (school nurse at Warren Area High School) was in charge of it for a long time, but she’s getting ready to retire, so it’s something I took on a couple of years ago. It’s something we do as a district and everyone, staff, and faculty, are all invited to take part in it.”

Napolitan explained that in the past, the Rouse would give the district the names of residents and a wish list of what they would like. But as that got to be a bit of a challenge, they thought of a different format.

“The managers at the Rouse decided it would be easier to do gifts of things the residents, essentially,” Napolitan said. “Everything from body wash, socks, and shampoo, slippers, puzzle books, things like that.”

And the presents are distributed throughout the year.

“As the residents need these things, staff will wrap them up and give them to them throughout the season until everything is gone,” Napolitan explained.

Gifts set to be dropped off for residents at the Rouse Home.

And when COVID hit, the teachers thought of a way for students to get involved as well.

“The last couple of years because of COVID, we invited teachers to have their students make cards,” Napolitan said. “Usually just general cards that say ‘thinking of you’ or ‘hope you are doing well,’ or cards with different picture designs on them. The staff divided them out as they saw fit.

“It’s pretty neat. There are some elementary kids all the way up through high school. It just depends on their availability to do it. They get a little more ownership and have a little bit of realization of what the needs are in the community.”

Napolitan explained it’s one of a number of things the schools do throughout the year to help out the community, and it’s all about giving back.

“The teachers, administrators, staff, we’re always doing something for somebody,” Napolitan said. “We want to provide that for our students. Everything from gathering materials and gifts for needy students in the district, as well as our boot drives, coat drives, and food drives. And a lot of buildings do things on their own as well.”

And Napolitan loves the program with the Rouse.

“This is unique,” he said. “It’s something we’re doing for the community, and sometimes it may be relatives of some of our students. It’s a nice thing to do, and it kind of takes away from some of the stress. It’s one of my favorite things to contribute to every year.”