MARS, Pa. — The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, but this story isn’t about hoping that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
It’s about 32 stockings, packed full of goodies for custodians in the Mars Area School District.
“Because realistically we wouldn’t be able to be all in-person if it wasn’t for all these custodians,” said Mars Area Primary mom Jennifer Bainbridge.
Students, like her son Kyle, had been going to school in person but just switched to virtual learning this week. But that doesn’t mean the job is done for the custodians at all the schools. Since teachers are still going in, so are the custodians.
“Now we’re deep cleaning everything, every day,” said Mars Area Middle School custodian Bonnie Herp. “Wipe the desks down, wipe the chairs down, anything that you think the teachers or the children have touched.”
What used to take 20 minutes, Herp now says takes 40, making for what can be a very long day.
After Bainbridge found out about the custodian’s long hours, she wanted to do something nice for them this holiday season. So she started a Facebook page to get donations, “and within two days, we had thousands and it kept growing and growing and it just became this huge movement,” said Bainbridge.
The community raised $6,100 dollars to fill the stockings with cookies, gift certificates and a $175 dollar Visa gift card for each of them. Bainbridge gave them to Herp, who delivered them to each custodian right before Thanksgiving.
“I had custodians start to cry. It still upsets me. Not in a bad way, a good way,” said Herp. “People were so excited because nobody’s ever done anything like this before for us.”
“It made me realize that there is a lot more behind-the-scenes work that goes into kids being able to go to in-person learning, so it was a humbling experience for me,” said Bainbridge.
She hopes this inspires other parents.
“It would be great to see a lot of other school districts in the Pittsburgh area kind of start a movement and help out the other people involved. Like the custodians, the maintenance workers, and the cafeteria workers,” said Bainbridge.
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