Pivik students pitch in to make presents for Children's Institute students - Plum

Pivik students pitch in to make presents for Children’s Institute students

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 | 7:55 PM

Pivik Elementary students and a Habitat for Humanity Allegheny Valley volunteer have partnered to provide special hand-made toys for the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh.

Tom Hughes, a Korean War veteran and one of the original Habitat helpers, made multiple hand-carved wooden reindeer for the nonprofit.

He continued that effort this year with the help of some Plum third and fourth graders.

Students decorated 26 toys with bells, fabric, candy canes, snowflake stickers, glitter, garland and other green and red materials earlier this month.

“This is really a fun project,” said third-grader Lyla Bocciere.

The reindeer stand about a foot tall, including the antlers, and maybe 9 inches from nose to tail.

Third-grader Samuel Cole said he hopes a child enjoys playing with the reindeer as much as he did decorating it.

“I think it’s really special to make something for Christmas that gives joy to someone else,” Samuel said.

Students also wrote notes to gift recipients.

“It’s a lot of fun, and you get to help others,” said fourth-grader Addie Halasowski.

Hughes, 86, of Butler County, said he works on about six reindeer at a time, and enjoyed sharing his work with the children.

The students are part of the school’s Kids That Care service group coordinated by third-grade teacher Carissa Yuhasz and fourth-grade teacher Melissa Bradfield.

Both said they were proud of their students, and the project gives them something to do for others.

“We like it when they come up with new ideas and projects on their own,” Yuhasz said.

Habitat Executive Director John Tamiggi said Hughes has excellent craftsmanship.

“This year we wanted to connect Tom’s efforts even further and create higher impacts,” Tamiggi said about the project.

Several students were also expected to help with the delivery of the reindeer.

The toys will be given to children receiving outpatient care and in the Day School at the Children’s Institute, said Abby Pittinaro, community giving and digital marketing manager.

The Day School is a private school that serves children with disabilities. Outpatient services address physical and behavioral health.

“We are super grateful,” Pittinaro said. “They’re very detailed and intricate (reindeer). I think they did an incredible job. There’s something really special about kids helping other kids this time of year. It’s important to always give back and kind of break down those walls and that we have a more inclusive culture.”

She said thank you cards will be sent to the students.

The institute serves more than 9,000 children and families a year. More information is available at amazingkids.org.