On Saturday, December 10th, Riverdale’s senior class will host its annual Breakfast with Santa program, a service learning opportunity that helps seniors engage with children from a local organization in the Bronx. These children are coming to Riverdale for a morning of fun and games through an organization called Little Sisters of the Assumption, or LSA. The organization was established in 1958 and aims to improve the East Harlem community by providing countless families with food, healthcare, education, and a safe home. Their mission statement explains their non-profit initiatives and that “through home visits, on-site services, support groups, classes and more, [they] help the most vulnerable achieve the wellness and strength they need to move forward.” Essentially, Little Sisters of the Assumption aims to better its community through developmental programs and care.
The senior class is excited to be hosting such an event, and each student is expected to buy and bring an appropriate, gender-neutral wrapped gift worth no more than fifteen dollars. Examples of gifts students have purchased include books, stuffed animals, coloring books, and card games, which will all be given to children during their meetings with Santa. There will be food served, games played, and most importantly, while it will be a carefree time for Riverdale’s seniors to bond with not only the many children attending from Little Sisters of Assumption, they will also bond with each other.
Santa, portrayed by seniors Max Feld and John Riggio, will be accompanied by other seniors dressed as elves. These elves are tasked with helping the day run smoothly, including helping serve breakfast in the morning. “We’ve been planning for a few weeks now. I really love kids and love helping out, so I am super excited” said senior Nikki Ziebelman, one of the event’s committee members. Ziebelman, along with Seniors Chris Worrell, Hailey Lipman, Malaika Swaminathan-Sipp, and Zoe Schwartzman are joined by faculty members Ms. Emily Schorr Lesnick and Ms. Rachel Klein to create a day of entertainment for the children. The event allows students to be “really excited to get to spend the day with [their] grade and celebrate the coming holidays with all the little kids,” says senior Aliah Banchik. As did the senior class of 2016 and many before them, it is typical for seniors to host this service learning event. Due to the occasion’s success last year, this year’s event was expected to be even more attended.
Designated by the planning committee, some seniors will help set up on Friday night, while others will stay late on Saturday to clean up. The breakfast is set to take place from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and various seniors are being assigned to specific stations. Some are placed in charge of serving food, while others are assigned to a crafts table to manage an art project. Another popular role is acting as a “buddy” for the day. Eighty one seniors are assigned one or two children who they will go with from activity to activity. These buddies, who make up the majority of the senior class, are just a part of a larger group of students granted the opportunity to engage in service learning and be present with children outside the Riverdale community.