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A Message of Giving and Caring



“Secret Santa” explains his mission of kindness
One of the key statements in our mission statement is that a Parker education “cultivates purposeful action.” Giving students chances to meet adults whose lives are examples of “purposeful action,” is one of the ways we inspire students to develop ideas about purposeful action in their own lives.
Parker had a special visitor today who provided just such an example. For over a decade, our visitor has chosen to spread pleasant surprises, in a city somewhere around the country, at the end of each calendar year. He starts by partnering with local law enforcement– because they are aware of areas of need in their city, and because participating makes them happy. Once our visitor arrives in a city, he takes his local partners off on a “sleigh ride.” They may enter a shopping area, a Goodwill store or a community center. Once there, they begin to interact with the neighbors, and the interaction ends with the no strings attached gift of a new $100 bill, from “Secret Santa.”
Our visitor was connected to Parker through parent Steve Hartman, who is a CBS news correspondent. Steve and our visitor have worked together for over a decade, as Steve covers the visits around the country from year to year. Steve did a wonderful job “setting up the story,” through a video clip of “Secret Santa,” when he paid a visit to another Albany– the one in Georgia!
The effect the gifts have on the recipients can only be matched by the effect the gifts have on the giver. Secret Santa provides the bills, but he always gives some bills to the local law enforcement to distribute on the sleigh ride, too. On today’s trip, two Parker administrators, Jamie Crouse, Director of Development, and Natalie Winne, our office manager, left campus for the day to share the joy of giving. They joined parent Andrea Hartman, Andrea’s mother Pat, and Leiana Hawkins, Parker’s K-5 science teacher. You can read Jamie’s thoughts on her day, below, as part of this Snapshot.
The presentation ended with our guest and his helpers giving each student a $20 bill. He also left them with the message that he hoped they would find some way, in the next few weeks, to show an act of kindness to someone.
A random act of kindnessPay it forwardIt is better to give than to receive. Parker School got a wonderful reminder today, that these kind and caring feelings are an enormous and strong part of our human nature.The message falls on fertile ground as our students are cherished and cared for.This love makes them even more capable of being carers and givers. Even as the students left the assembly to return to their classrooms, the possibilities for random acts of kindness were buzzing in our halls.
Jamie reflects on her sleigh ride experience
The experience of being on a Secret Santa “sleigh ride” is truly like no other experience in my life. I’ve spent time volunteering with various organizations, attended benefits, donated money to causes that are important to me…but add all of those good feelings together and it still doesn’t top the overwhelming carousel of positive emotions that I felt today, from the power of giving on this scale.
Our group was composed of Albany PD, NYS Troopers, Parker friends and faculty, and Secret Santa and his elves. We visited Westgate Plaza, Albany’s South End, Capital City Rescue Mission, a Central Ave car wash owned and operated by an Ecuadorian family, and a number of street corners in Arbor Hill. When the team was activated, we spread out and looked for people we felt needed their spirits lifted. When we found that person we would engage with them and offer the Secret Santa specially-stamped $100 bill. The only catch in receiving this is to promise to perform a random act of kindness as a way of paying it forward.
The highlight of my day was seeing an Albany officer hand out a couple Secret Santa bills to a woman on the street today. She told him, as they chatted, that she was worried about Christmas because she was on a fixed income and had five grandchildren. She hugged the officer and tears rolled down her face. There wasn’t a dry eye on that side of Clinton Ave.
The experience made me feel grateful for what I have and the people in my life– including my Parker community.
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