While the girls attended the Totally Trades program at Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington on Nov. 8, the eighth grade boys made swags to give to community members. Submitted photo

JAY — When Spruce Mountain Middle School eighth grade teachers needed something for the boys to do while the girls attended the Totally Trades program at Foster Career and Technology Education Center in Farmington earlier this month, they came up with the idea of a swags project to help community members. The project exceeded expectations.

Last week a few of the boys shared their experiences.

Griffin Achorn said they walked to the Jay Recreation Field behind the school and cut boughs from the Christmas trees planted there. In addition to the Balsam fir branches, they also cut pine, spruce and hemlock boughs.

Brenden Veilleux said the boughs were brought to Mr. Rob Taylor’s room.

“We got in groups. One adult or teacher worked with each group,” he said.

Jesse Lewis said at least five or six boughs were used for each swag.

“We added bows, decorations and small toys or dolls,” he said.

Holly berries and tree ornaments were also added according to the other boys.

Teacher Julie Taylor said in all 42 swags were made. On Nov. 15 each boy took a swag home to give to a community member who might not get the chance to buy one themselves.

Asher Nesbit said, “We made a lot more swags than I thought.”

Lewis said elderly people don’t get a lot of visitors.

Veilleux said he gave his swag to a lady recently diagnosed with leukemia.

“She was very grateful,” he said.

Jace Bessey said he had noticed a man with a neck problem who did a lot of gardening.

“I wanted to give it to him,” he said.

Julie Taylor told Bessey the man is the father of one of the school’s custodians.

“It’s amazing how things turn out,” she said.

Some of the boys admitted they questioned the project at first.

Bessey thought it wouldn’t be that interesting while Lewis underestimated how much fun it would be.

“The boys were all excited,” Julie Taylor said. “They ran down the hill hooting and hollering. It was great to see them having fun, acting like kids.

“They all came up with smiles on their faces.”

In addition to the Taylors, staff members assisting on the project were Susan Sandler, Amanda Gage-Croll, Marianne O’Donnell, Michelle Moffett and Nicola Wilson. Volunteers Nancy Grimaldi, Lynn Ouellette and Sarah Delaney also helped.
Julie Taylor said three of the swags, two large ones and a National Lampoon Christmas Vacation ‘tree’ are displayed in the SMMS lobby. All but three swags had been given to community members as of Nov. 20 and those were to be given away at The Free Store.

SMMS eighth grade boys recently made swags to give to community members. Seen from left are Griffin Achorn, Jesse Lewis, Asher Nesbit, Brenden Veilleux and Jace Bessey on Wednesday, Nov. 20 as they talked about the project. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

These swags in the Spruce Mountain Middle School lobby were among 42 made by eighth grade boys at the school. Each boy was tasked with giving a swag to a community member who might not be able to purchase one. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

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