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Help sought to make holidays brighter for homeless students

Date: 12/11/2015

HOLYOKE – What started as a modest effort at one Holyoke school to help homeless students is now growing.

Last year, Kristina Smith’s daughter Victoria came home from the E. N. White School in Holyoke concerned about how the homeless students in her class would celebrate Christmas. Kristina started asking questions and discovered there were 17 to 19 homeless students.

Smith organized a gift exchange, which supplied a present for those children.

“Now for those of you that know me well, I am a complete Grinch! However, that day at the school was a feeling so good words cannot describe. To see the smiles on faces of the children in need was a gift in itself,” she said.

She said the first year’s effort was supported by Johnstone Supply in Chicopee, a heating and cooling supply company.

Smith told Reminder Publications this year the effort is going to be expanded and she is hoping people will support the effort.

“They came to me this year and I tried to come up with a different idea,” she said.

Rather than just a gift exchange, Kristina has arranged for a school bus to pick up the students and their families and bring them to the school on Dec. 17 for a potluck dinner and gift exchange between 5 and 6:30 p.m.

With the families now invited, Kristina expects between 40 and 50 people to attend.

Smith, who is the branch manager for Berkshire Heating and Cooling in West Springfield, has contacted her company’s vendors for assistance and is hoping other parents at the school will join in as well as other companies.

Smith is looking for people to donate a potluck dish; make or donate decorations for the cafeteria; provide a gift for a child; or volunteer to help on the night of the event.

People interested in helping Smith should contact her at 364-8338 or at