Sheppard Project

The halls of the Isaac A. Sheppard School in Kensington, a neighborhood of Philadelphia, are lined with smiles.

For 121 years, kids from underprivileged areas have been filtering through, with little access to books and computers. Nonetheless, their spirits persist; this concept was as clear as day on December 15th, 2017.

The day started out with a gingerbread making activity. As I approached the kids, I couldn’t help but be timid; these kids did not know me, nor I them. But my trepidation quickly dissipated as I realized how compassionate and caring these kids truly are.

Two girls, Zamayah and Fabiola, called me over to their table. “Liz… my gingerbread house keeps falling apart,” Zamayah lamented. Together the three of us employed every ounce of construction skills we had and created a candy mansion. As we worked, these girls opened up to me. It soon became apparent that their home lives were less than ideal.

But suddenly, our conversation was quickly interrupted by a surprise guest: Santa Claus!

Tommy Merlo, a CB South senior, entered the room bearing gifts. His jolly demeanor and award-winning smile made the kids erupt in a frenzy of excitement and happiness.

One kid, Juan, received a large box covered in snowflake wrapping paper.

The countdown began… three, two, one: GO!

Juan and his peers tore into their gifts, flinging wrapping paper all over the desks and floor. Much to his excitement, Juan uncovered a monster truck!

Everyone in the room was buzzing about their newfound toys, and they quickly remembered to thank Santa and his helpers.

These kids, who don’t have much, remembered in the heat of the moment to thank us. Their gratitude and appreciation is boundless.

I am certain that every single CB South student left Philadelphia with warmer hearts, happier souls, and bigger smiles than they ever had before.