It’s never too early to learn about charity, and the St. Benedict’s Playhouse knows that through experience.
Recently, children in the day-care program sent care packages to overseas children who have undergone surgery to fix facial deformities. The care packages included 20 items, such as soap, toothpaste, combs, mirrors, tooth brushes, stuffed animals and hair care products.
“It’s things for the children for when they wake up from surgery,” said Bailey Provetto, program director at the playhouse. “We try to show our families the joy and blessing of giving each holiday.”
About 240 boxes were assembled and sent out. The packages were donated as part of an international program called “Operation Smile,” which provides safe and effective reconstructive surgery for children and young adults born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. The boxes are sent to children in more than 50 countries and thousands of medical volunteers, advocates and donors help facilitate the surgeries each year.
St. Benedict’s Playhouse, which is a pre-pre-school program for children who are just a few months old until about three years old, also raised enough money to pay for one child.’s surgery
About 80 children attend the program. The families of all the students helped either through donations or by assembling the packages.
Each year the playhouse takes part in a similar charity program where the students work to improve the lives of less-fortunate children across the country.
“We try to pick an organization or charity that gives to children, so our children are always giving to children,” Provetto said, adding that even an abstract concept like charity can easily be taught to the youngsters. “They gravitate to it very quickly. At first they wanted to have the toys themselves, but the moms showed them the photos and then the kids wanted to participate and go out and do the shopping. Even at an early age the kids learn the joy of giving.”
The playhouse opened eight years ago and has been doing charity work for the past six holiday seasons.
Previously, the group helped children here in the Bronx by donating to the homeless mothers and children in the Concourse House located on the Grand Concourse. They also helped children across the globe with donations to an orphanage in Romania and children in Iraq.
Provetto said that the groups decided to help “Operation Smile” because of their work connections with the organization.
“We knew some people who run it. We always pick charities we know where all the proceeds are going to children,” she said. “Every year we do it and we’re already trying to scope out what we’re going to be doing for next year.”