NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- At Trinity Elementary School, the holiday season is the perfect time for the Love Committee to spring into action.
Not that this group of teachers waits for winter before spreading their message of appreciation for all. The committee was formed during a school book fair last February, when Physical Education teacher Troy Millings saw the need to make books available for all students, even those whose families could not easily afford them.
Soon, he was working with several other teachers - Ivette Herrera, Kelly Hawkins, Patricia Thomas and Jillian Ritacco.
They made books accessible to everyone in a subsequent sale, and they continued to spread random acts of kindness to colleagues and others to keep school spirit high. For Mother's Day, all female teachers received lollipop flowers. On Father's Day, it was construction paper bow ties with candy centers for the male teachers.
"If we love our students and we love what we do, we need to reach out," Millings said.
"The Love Committee has become part of the fabric of our school," said Principal Michael Hilderbrand.
Just this morning, the committee held a surprise breakfast for school monitors, the unsung heroes of the school, with carol singers, a photo booth and more. With the holidays arriving, they started an "Amazon Toy Drive" that brought in more than 100 wrapped presents - which was so many that they were able to donate 25 to a local church and to families that were affected by recent fires in New Rochelle
"Whether it's Christmas or Hanukkah - whatever they celebrate - these kids need gifts," Hawkins said.The committee's initiatives have also expanded, with outside organizations joining in.
"It has spread to the entire community. It's more than just Trinity," said Herrera.
At one point, the members may have been easy to identify with their distinctive Trinity blue T-shirts. But the shirts caught on, and now many others have them as well. On the front of the shirt is a paw with heart in the center. The back sports the words "Everything you do matters," something Hilderbrand is known for saying.
"It's now the school mantra," Millings said.