The gift-giving season came a bit early for students at the Harvard-Kent Elementary School, thanks to MGH Institute of Health Professions.

A fundraising drive spearheaded by faculty in the School of Nursing’s Upsilon Lambda chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society raised $8,000, enough to provide each of Harvard-Kent’s 397 children a $20 Walmart gift card before the holiday break.

“Since the pandemic started in March, we have not been able to assist Harvard-Kent students like we had in the past,” said Kathy Sabo, director of the MGH Institute’s Ruth Sleeper Nursing Center for Clinical Education and Wellness. “The pandemic has created financial difficulties for many families, so we thought this would be our way of helping them during the holidays.”

Prior to the pandemic, faculty at the Sleeper Center had developed and created an age-appropriate health education curriculum for the Charlestown public school. Groups of Bachelor of Science in Nursing students in their public health nursing course had been meeting and working weekly with children. But that initiative was sidelined when COVID-19 caused both schools to close and continued this fall as children learned remotely.

The monies raised far exceeded the original goal of $3,000. Donations came from faculty, staff, and students from the MGH Institute, as well as members of the school’s honor society. 

“We are truly blessed and grateful to have the MGH Institute as an amazing partner that provides so many opportunities to our students and families,” said Harvard-Kent principal Jason Gallagher. “These gift cards will help make this challenging holiday season a bit brighter for our students and families.” 

Because many children come from neighborhoods throughout Boston, Gallaher said gift cards would be delivered to families that couldn’t pick them up at the school.