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A bear-y merry Christmas

East Syracuse fifth grader donates Build-A-Bears to children in need

Kamrin Eischen, a fifth grader at East Syracuse Elementary School, organized an effort to raise almost $700 to stuff more than 70 Build-A-Bears, which were donated to children in need this Christmas.

Kamrin Eischen, a fifth grader at East Syracuse Elementary School, organized an effort to raise almost $700 to stuff more than 70 Build-A-Bears, which were donated to children in need this Christmas. Allie Wenner

— “It has been an amazing journey watching Kamrin, because last year, I don’t know if the same child would have been able to do something like this,” said Cardarelli. “He has blossomed and matured and this [project] has put him in such a leadership role that I think it’s expanding him into bigger and better things.”

“I’m very proud,” said Flinn. “He’s always been very giving, if he gets any kind of money he’d rather spend it on someone else.”

“Before this project, he was named the fifth grade student of the month,” added Cardarelli. “And at Build-A-Bear, he asked me ‘So what’s next?’ He’s already reaching for that next goal and he’s hungry for it.”

St. Matthew’s Gift Distribution

For almost 40 years, St. Matthew’s Church has providing hundreds of families within the ESM School District with the supplies necessary to ensure that everyone can have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas by giving out food, clothing and toys to families in need.

“It’s very rewarding. It certainly is a feel-good project, but it’s also a necessary project,” said Barbara Hemmerlein, a member of the Christmas committee at St. Matt’s who has been working on the event for the last 26 years. “We know that there are a lot of families in this area that would have no Christmas if we didn’t help.”

St. Matt’s has been doing the Christmas Gift Distribution each December for nearly 40 years, but it operates a food pantry year-round. Hemmerlein said that the church averages about 160 families each month, but that number can spike to as high as 281, which is how many families it served this November. And when families came in to pick up their food for Thanksgiving, they had the chance to sign up for the Christmas Distribution. And this season, St. Matt’s is helping out a record-high 230 families.

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