Weber takes helm of holiday shop

December 21, 2009|By JANET HEIM

CLEAR SPRING -- A team of Santa's helpers has been busy working behind the scenes since fall, shopping, planning and checking their lists twice. The helpers -- parent volunteers at Clear Spring Elementary School -- are led by Beth Sullivan Weber.

Weber is hesitant to take much credit.

"There's a great group of people who help. No one could do this by themselves," said Weber, 46.

Weber grew up in Halfway and graduated from St. Maria Goretti High School in 1981. She and her husband, Tom, moved from Allentown, Pa., to Clear Spring in 2001 with their young children.

The Webers have a daughter, Grace, in third grade at the school and a son, Jack, in first grade. When Grace became a student at Clear Spring Elementary two years ago, Weber attended a PTA meeting.

Sign-up sheets for committees were passed around and people had signed up to help with the Holiday Shop, but no one wanted to be in charge.


"I'm organized. I thought, if there's a committee, I can do it," Weber recalled.

The Holiday Shop -- which gives the school's 435 students a chance to purchase holiday gifts for friends and family and have them wrapped at school -- had been on hiatus when Weber took the reins.

Starting from scratch last year, Weber and a committee of about 15 members solicited donations from local businesses and individuals. Committee members agreed that most of the items would be purchased from local businesses.

The goal is to keep prices as low as possible, with a large selection of gifts in the $1 and $2 range, Weber said, noting that the Holiday Shop is not a fundraiser.

Other elementary schools in Washington County offer a variation of Clear Spring Elementary's Holiday Shop.

Only children are allowed to shop the front hallways of the school that are lined with gifts such as books, water bottles, lotions, magnets, pens and pencils, games, balls and hats, and items personalized for parents and grandparents.

Before the weeklong Holiday Shop opens, a list with prices is sent home with students. They discuss with their parents who to shop for and what their budget is, bringing the list and money the day their class gets to shop.

Weber and other parent volunteers help the children select items from their list before they pay and head to the wrapping station. Some parents send in extra money so students who are unable to pay can select gifts.

"We keep an eye out for kids who might not be able to afford to shop. When someone comes in with 10 cents, 50 cents or $1, they might need a little help," Weber said. "We want every child to be able to come enjoy and shop."

That financial help might come out of the pockets of the parent volunteers.

Weber said it helps that she knows many of the students from being a substitute teacher at the school. She also helps a friend part time with her business and does some cake decorating, along with being a Girl Scout leader and a member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Halfway.

Being Santa's helper has its rewards.

"If you could see how they act when they find something special ... they get so excited when they have these presents," Weber said.

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