Eight years ago, Waldo County Technical Center teacher Rachel Littlefield happened to be offered some gently used clothing for her students, some of whom were from families without much money.

She displayed the clothes in her classroom and her students reacted "like they were in Bergdorf's," the teacher said. "They took all the clothes."

Since then, the school has created a home for the year-round clothing donation program, called "It's Cool 2 Be Warm," along with a food donation program known as "Food 4 Friends." Littlefield heads up the committee that runs both programs, which are accessible to students throughout the school year, in addition to her academic duties.

Now she is preparing for the school's third annual 'Tis the Season celebration, where groceries and clothes are displayed in a public area for any student to take, and music and treats make for a festive event.

'Tis the Season is sensitive to students' dignity, inviting all to participate, regardless of need. It also allows kids to find gifts for their families, which some would not otherwise be able to do.

This year, with pandemic restrictions in force, the event, which takes place the week of Dec. 14, will look a bit different. Littlefield would like to receive gift cards to stores like Hannaford and Renys, as any clothing or food items will have to be stored for a while to make sure they are free of potential viral particles. Those who want to donate nonperishable food or clothes should drop them off at least a week in advance, she said.

Waldo County is home to many families with little means. In some cases, students have so little to eat they are "headed for starvation," Littlefield told us. Some live with parents too proud to accept help, even if it means hardship for their kids. "It's astounding how much kids don't have," she said.

According to the national nonprofit Feeding America, 20.7% of students in the county were food-insecure in 2018, the last year for which data are available. Of those, 31% had family incomes too high to qualify for federal nutrition assistance.

WCTC anticipates that students' needs this year will be greater than usual because of the pandemic. It is even more important that students get the food and clothing they need during this time of uncertainty and financial hardship.

Now is the time of year when many of us are looking for opportunities to be kind. Here is such an opportunity. If you are fortunate enough to have more than you need to eat, if you can buy new clothes before the old ones wear out, consider donating a gift card, or sharing some gently used clothing or a bag of groceries with the youth of Waldo County Technical Center.

It won't take off any pounds, but you'll feel lighter for having done it.

To donate, contact Littlefield at 342-5231, ext. 119, or via email  at rlittlefield@waldotech.org.

Happy Thanksgiving.