BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Students at Robinwood Elementary School in Boardman learned that sometimes the greatest gift is giving.
This is the first holiday season that Joseph Malie, patriarch of the Malie family, has lived in a nursing home.
Family visits him each day, playing games like Yahtzee. They also talk about their large, close-knit family, especially Joseph’s memories of Christmases past.
“Brings everybody together, at least once per year,” said Joseph Malie.
Amanda Scrocco, Malie’s daughter, is a guidance counselor for Boardman Schools.
Walking out of Jan Zorman’s room at Robinwood Elementary, she saw the class Christmas tree and it reminded her of her father.
“[Zorman] said, ‘I know how hard it is, with the holidays, especially with it being the first holiday with your dad being in, and I understand.’ The students were listening to this conversation,” said Scrocco.
It became a teaching moment for Zorman’s students.
“I said, ‘What do you think we could do to make her happy?’ And we came up with the idea, let’s give her our tree as an act of kindness,” Zorman said.
The students packed up the tree and sent it with Mrs. Scrocco to the nursing home.
Portia Malie, Joseph’s Malie’s wife, said her husband’s days are a little brighter now because of it.
“We are just happy to have it. We set it up, and he loves it,” said Portia Malie.
This story of Christmas kindness doesn’t end here.
The students went home and told their parents why they no longer had a class Christmas tree. The families responded with an outpouring of support — bringing in their Christmas trees for the classroom.
The unexpected gifts kept coming in, much to the surprise of the entire staff.
“All the trees came floating in because they learned that if you do an act of kindness, someone will be kind to you,” said Zorman.
In the end, nearly a dozen Christmas trees — of all shapes and sizes — filled the classroom.