MONTVILLE, NJ - Students, staff, and parents from Montville Township’s St. Pius X School provided materials to make 24 large Easter baskets, numerous smaller baskets, and a bin full of extras that were delivered to Paterson’s St. Joseph’s Hospital Pediatric Oncology Department on Wednesday, March 28.

The project started about six years ago when Dr. Dennis Kuo, a pediatric oncologist at St. Joseph’s Hospital and a former parishioner and parent of St. Pius’ student Cara Kuo, had the idea for the school children to do this act of kindness. He asked former Principal Sister June Morrissey if it were possible. She readily agreed and set the ball rolling by asking Debbie Vigorito, school lunch manager and after school program director, to be in charge. 

John Galka, St. Pius’ new principal, is keeping the tradition alive. He said, “I believe kindness and generosity are testimony to students and families that the need to give back is important, especially during the Easter season.”

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Anna Olohan, an eighth grader and president of the student council said, “Everyone donated for this event, and I think it is really great that the kids at St. Joseph’s Hospital will be getting these baskets for Easter.” 

Vigorito put the beautiful baskets together, with the help of Jackie Bain, school nurse, and they delivered the gifts to the hospital. Robyn Giordano, former St. Pius X parent, also made six Easter baskets. Others involved in the project were Kate Baron, a parent volunteer, and Stephanie DiPisa, Home and School Association marketing coordinator. 

Vigorito said that each class was asked to bring in certain items for the baskets. This year, in order to collect more funds, the school had a Dress Down Day and charged students $5.00. This money was used to buy larger items for the baskets. The baskets were made for children ranging from two years old and up.

The baskets first will go to the children in the oncology department. The over flow then will go to children in other wards.

Bain said that Vigorito does this every year as “a labor of love.” And Vigorito stated, “It’s a joy to make these baskets every year to make Easter better for these children.” She also added that Bain “is always there to help everyone.”

The baskets were filled with coloring books, crayons, skate boards, t-shirts, nail polish, make up, journals, books, footballs, Legos, stuffed animals, slippers, fuzzy socks, Barbie dolls, puzzles, and much more.

Every year the baskets are received by the hospital with gratitude and joy.

Photo Caption: Students at Montville’s St. Pius X School donate Easter baskets to children at St. Joseph’s Hospital’s pediatric oncology ward in Paterson. Bottom left: Julianna Arriola, David and Lily Ciottariello and Brady Smith. Top left: Patrick DiCang, Kaitlyn Ryan, Kacie Krauland, Sophia Gonzalez, Principal John Galka, Joseph DiPisa, Anna Olohan, Sean Rizzo, Anthony Salerno, Anna Baron and Giovanni DiFilippo.

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