I was a student at RFS in the 80s, and I remember this program as one that instilled the essence of the meaning of “giving.” It is still the living proof of what community means for me. During turbulent times, when all programs and activities were halted at RFS due to escalations in conflict, the White Gifts program remained active.
Today, and despite the challenges we face in Palestine and at RFS, particularly due to the pandemic, the White Gifts Program continues, with only minor adjustments to ensure everyone’s safety. Instead of focusing on receiving gifts during this month and for Christmas, our children tend to shift their focus to bringing gifts that could in turn be shared with people in the community who are not as privileged.
The White Gift is also seen as a child-centered service program, which brings with it joy and love. The aroma of baked goodies and food drifting through the hallways of RFS’ Lower and Upper campuses encourages children to think of what it means to give.
This fall, and due to Covid, one of the adjustments made to the bake sale was to keep sales within grade levels: each student would sell only to their classmates to minimize the risk of the virus spreading through the School community. Students and staff proved to be very creative as they cooperatively came up with new ideas on how to collect more donations. For example, a no-uniform day was initiated at the Lower Campus and students would donate money in return for not wearing the uniform. At the Upper Campus, the School’s CAS (Community, Action, and Service) program collaborated with the Student Council for their annual Christmas visit to the kindergarten at Al-Amari Refugee Camp, and handed out gifts to the children to cheer them up.
It is estimated that 225 families will benefit from the White Gifts donations, including a senior home in Ramallah which usually uses the donated amount to pay for the cost of the heating for the entire winter season.