Pavilion, N.Y. - The desks in classroom at Pavilion Elementary School
have been moved aside, replaced by long tables manned by women, some of them wearing bright red Santa hats.
In this Santa’s workshop it’s not the gift that is center stage, but what it’s covered in. One of the volunteers points out bright green paper covered with cows. “It says Mooey Christmas,” she said. “This is really fun because it’s going to a dairy farm!”
These retired teachers call themselves the “Wrappin’ Retirees.” They began with a simple idea, to provide wrapping services to teachers and staff free of charge.
“We’re providing stress relief to colleagues,” said Pat Marcus.
Several times a week unwrapped gifts are dropped off at the door with sticky notes attached. By days end they are covered in bright paper, tagged, and adorned in festive ribbons.
Some items will be opened by students in class. Most will go home with time-challenged teachers and staff members for their own families.
“We barely have time to shop. And once we get the shopping done we need to wrap,” said third grade teacher Christine Farrell. “When you have kids at home it’s kind of hard to find time when they are not around.”
Farrell estimates she is getting back hours of sleep she would have lost in late-night wrapping marathons. “The time element is worth more to me and to them,” says Pat Marcus.
No gift is turned away. The “Wrappin’ Retirees” handle big, small, even awkward. Last year that amounted to 720 wrapped gifts. These temporary elves here have it all figured out. Wrapping presents for children is really a gift for their parents.
“It’s about the joy of helping someone, the joy of giving at this time of year to someone who doesn’t have the time,” says Marcus.