Thirteen proved to be a lucky number for Columbus House this year: on Feb. 13, the organization celebrated its 13th year of partnership with The Foote School.
On Monday, the Foote students presented Columbus House with the results of the annual gift card drive. Together, the Foote community donated more than 400 gift cards that homeless people in the New Haven area can use at local stores to get food, supplies, or just get warm. The students also made more than 200 Valentine’s cards for the clients at Columbus House.
The New Haven-based Columbus House serves “people experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk by providing life-saving outreach, shelter and housing and by fostering their personal growth and independence. [It advocates] for and creates affordable housing to end homelessness in our communities.”
Sheree DiMario, Volunteer Coordinator for Columbus House, accepted the cards in person at the Lower School Assembly, thanking the students for their support and kindness toward people whom they haven’t even met.
Second grade teachers Hilary Pearson and Margy Lamere initiated the partnership in 2009, and with the exception of a pause during COVID, have kept the gift card drive going ever since. Each year they ask students to give up an in-class Valentine’s card exchange and spend that money instead on people in need.
“The point was to provide a local experience for the kids, something they could do that meant a lot to people here,” said Lamere. “Most kids have seen members of the New Haven-area unhoused population, so it resonates.”