Tag Archive | "Holidays"

Sag Harbor Students Lend a Helping Hand – and Mitten

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Students in Susan Raebeck's Kindergarten class stand in front of the Mitten Line.

Students in Susan Raebeck’s Kindergarten class stand in front of the Mitten Line.

By Tessa Raebeck

While her classmates were asking for iPads and Xboxes, there was only one thing on the young girl’s list: a Christmas tree. Her family had never had one.

After making her one-item list in kindergarten last year, the Sag Harbor Elementary School student received lights, a stand and her family’s first tree. This holiday season, they will have their second.

The gifts were made possible through The Mitten Line, a longstanding tradition of the Sag Harbor School District that enables students, families and community members to provide holiday gifts to those in the district who are less fortunate.

School counselor Michelle Grant renamed the custom after a short story she wrote explaining anonymous gift giving and encouraging students to go a step further by taking something off their own wish lists.

“Suddenly,” reads the poem, “I realized how I could show how much I care. I could take something off my wish list and buy a gift instead to share.”

Grant, who colleague Nina Landi calls “the Mother Teresa of Sag Harbor,” runs every aspect of the gift drive, from pinpointing families in need to delivering presents to their homes.

On the wall outside the elementary school gymnasium are hundreds of “mittens,” paper cutouts with descriptions of students and their desired gifts. One mitten asks for Legos for an 8-year-old girl. Another, “Boy, Age 6, Gloves” lies alongside “Girl, Age 16, Skinny jeans.”

Families and faculty members pick mittens from the line, buy the presents and return them to school unwrapped. Grant then delivers them along with wrapping paper, so parents can see the presents and wrap them on their own before giving them to their kids.

With 18 families receiving gifts, a total of 43 kids in grades kindergarten through 12 are represented on the Mitten Line.

Some families are already identified as needing extra financial support, while others come forward during the holidays. All transactions are completely anonymous; only Grant knows which families are involved.

Teachers help identify kids whose families may be in need, although many parents are hesitant to sign up.

School counselor Michelle Grant helps students transport donated gifts.

School counselor Michelle Grant helps students transport donated gifts.

“That’s the hardest part,” says Grant. “There are people who I know [who need help], or I’ll even offer, and they’re like, ‘No, we’re okay.’ And they are okay — for them they’re okay. But we really just want to do something that says, ‘if we can do this, you’ll just have a little extra come January, February, if you need something.’ Some families are hesitant to do that and I understand and we have to respect that; but that’s the hardest part.”

The community will give over 500 gifts this year through the Mitten Line.

Every child receives a stocking with toiletries, books, socks, pajamas, a hat, gloves, a scarf and basic school supplies.

They are also given two or three special gifts, which are determined by lists provided by the family and teachers’ ideas on what their students might like.

Every contribution comes from the teachers and families of Sag Harbor. Grant tries to limit costs to under $20, but she keeps a separate list of more expensive items (bicycles, Kindles, etc.) for when people donate large sums of cash or ask for the opportunity to purchase a larger gift.

Last year, one family was given a full night in New York City, including Jitney tickets, restaurant meals and hotel accommodations.

A fifth grade class has been collecting money all year in preparation for the Mitten Line. With money earned from doing chores and recycling bottles, the class was able to pick its own mitten to fulfill.

In the 16 years she’s been running it, Grant has seen the drive — and the financial disparity between Sag Harbor’s families — grow substantially.

Donating within their own school makes the needs of others — as well as the rewards of giving — more tangible, she said, because students “really know that everything stays for kids in our schools.”

“Our families are so generous,” said Grant. “All the families, not just the families that have a lot, even the families that are on the line — those kids want to help. Everybody wants to help and do something.”

With Something for Every Budget, In Home Helps Sag Harbor Shoppers Tackle Holiday Shopping

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David Brogna and John Scocco show their wares at In Home

David Brogna and John Scocco show their wares at In Home

By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

As Sag Harbor residents begin checking items off their holiday shopping lists, In Home is hosting a storewide clearance sale to ease the process, offering great deals on everything from sofas to stocking stuffers. With up to 70 percent off selected items, the sale includes regular clearance items, as well as closeouts from brand name manufacturers like Calvin Klein, Dansk and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

Since 1996, In Home co-owners John Scocco and David Brogna have filled their Main Street shop with a carefully curated collection of furnishings for every room, occasion and budget. Brogna, an award winning Home Products Development Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), has an eye for design and a background as a buyer for companies like Macy’s. Scocco complements Brogna’s expertise with his own background in interior design and as an industrial film production manager. Together, they have built a longstanding store dedicated to both local and seasonal markets.

“We do have higher priced items,” said Scocco of In Home’s selection. “But most people don’t want to spend a lot of money these days, so we try to gear things for those shoppers.”

Brogna and Scocco have stocked their shelves with fun gift items under $25 or $50, “things that people would just come in and just want to pick up,” said Scocco.

One such item is the Corkcicle, a popular gift In Home was asked to restock after selling out last summer. For $23, the corkcicle is a long tube that resembles an icicle with a cork on top of it. After being chilled in a freezer, the corkcicle is inserted into a bottle of white or rosé wine. Unlike ice, the corkcicle won’t melt or water down your wine; instead, the bottle is both chilled and aerated upon pouring.

Another fun gift that was a hit this summer is the citrus sprayer, on sale at In Home for $15. After cutting the tip off of a lemon or lime, the citrus sprayer, which resembles the top of a spray perfume bottle, is placed on top of the fruit, allowing its owner to spray a mist of the juice directly from the lemon or lime.

“It’s really amazing,” says Scocco. “It really, really works.”

For under $20, In Home has a variety of other gift items from companies like Kate Spade and RSVP, including soap sets, candle sets, picture frames, personal care items and other home accessories. $10 can get you a chrome rabbit that doubles as a ring holder or a snow globe that’s also a ring game for children, as well as a variety of other “little fun stuff.”

“Of course, we do have a lot of other high end, more special items as well,”
said Scocco. “But our focus primarily is on the less expensive items.”

Brogna and Scocco are committed to keeping the shop stocked with reasonably priced gift items for the holidays, but they also hope to clear out the larger home furnishings in order to make room for next season’s stock.

“There’s a wide assortment of things,” said Scocco. “Some people feel intimidated, people that don’t really know us hear ‘Oh, that store’s really expensive…’ We do have a wide range and our pricing is really very, very fair and very well priced.”

The In Home team hopes to sell all the clearance furniture by January. Regularly priced at $1,980, a Stratton leather chair by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, modern with a dark, lightly distressed wooden frame and creamy stone leather seat, is on sale for $899. A soft, 100% Egyptian cotton king-sized blanket from Sferra’s home collection regularly priced at $250 is half off at $125. Framed mythological star maps of the astrological night sky, 23” by 23”, are marked down from $190 to $99. Also on sale are sofas, coffee tables, end tables, throw pillows and virtually anything else you need to decorate your home.

“There’s so much you can get overwhelmed with all the product that we have in our space,” Scocco said with excitement.

In Home is located at 132 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 725-7900 or visit inhomesagharbor.com.