Spartan staff helps make a brighter Christmas

Kids open presents at the Help Us Help Them party at VAC in 2019.

Since 2016, the Castleton Spartan has raised thousands of dollars to brighten the Christmas’ of local children and families in need.

“It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and stressing about our Christmas, but it’s important to give back to our community in any way we can,” said former editor, Lily Doton, about the Help Us Help Them fundraiser, which this year aims to raise $1,200.

What was established in Communications professor David Blow’s Media Ethics class, soon was adopted by the Spartan to give back to kids and families through the Vermont Achievement Center.

To date, the fundraiser will have raised nearly $12,000 dollars and provided for over 50 families.

Members of the staff and advisor, David Blow, personally shop for, wrap, and deliver the gifts to kids and their families in-person at the Vermont Achievement Center.

Another former editor, Sophia-Buckey Clement, describes the kids’ reactions as “over the moon” and describes their “grabbing gifts out of kid’s hands because they were so excited.” 

Despite enjoying every part of the experience, Buckey-Clement said her favorite part was the delivery – by far.

“What I also like about this effort is that it’s a bonding experience for the Spartan students,” said Blow, adding how they go shopping at the Target in Queensbury, then go to lunch afterwards, his treat.

Sports editor Justin Gitto recounts how he and fellow reporter shopped for baby onesies and found some with Queen and other rock bands on them, and Buckey-Clement said one of her favorite things to shop for were Squishmellows.

However, it’s not just toys on the wish list. It’s also clothes, winter jackets, hats, mittens, and leftover money for cupcakes and juice boxes to bring to the party.

Blow says his absolute favorite year was its very first, when they got to pay for half of one mother’s electric bill, when her heat was about to be turned off.

Through a single phone call from a local food pantry, he was informed of her situation, and the staff happened to have money left over from the $1,500 dollars raised.

Together they went to the mother’s house while she and her two kids were out a walk, placed the presents under the tree, and her electric bill was paid off to keep the lights and heat on.

“It just lined up perfectly,” said Blow. “It was a magical Christmas.”

Raising money for these kids not only provides what they need, but saves their families money to spend on other necessities.

The Spartan staff encourages whoever is able to give, to help us achieve our $1,200 goal.

“I would encourage people, even if it’s just a few bucks, that can go towards giving these kids and their families a good holiday. A lot of the time this time of year we’re writing our own lists, but it’s even more rewarding to be giving gifts,” said Doton. 

Donations can be made at or cash/check delivered to a Spartan staff member.

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