Best Nest Christmas party unites community, brings smiles


Dan McGlinn


Mr. Legner, Santa, and the Elves

An annual Malvern tradition, Best Nest brings out the Best in everyone involved. But is there more to all the presents and festivities than might meet the eye? What kind of work goes into all those gifts for the children affected by HIV/AIDS that come to be greeted by the big cheery man in red? After doing a little research into the many methods of gathering those gifts I have come to a conclusion: YES.

Each homeroom at Malvern is in charge of purchasing, collecting, and wrapping all the gifts for an assigned child. This is a child who is affected by HIV/AIDS and will not get any other presents. The children have a range of ages from 2 or 3 to 13 years old, so the presents vary, from a bike to t-shirts or Transformers. There are plenty of different ways for the gifts to be gathered, but many teachers have developed their own strategies to bring the spirit of giving to their homeroom.

Mr. Ostick is a strong advocate of Best Nest. He is a long-time homeroom teacher and has been doing Best Nest for a long time. He is a huge advocate of getting the children everything that is on their list, but it hasn’t always been easy. For many years, there was a lot of rushing around at the last minute. Not many homeroom kids brought in money to buy the gifts and things weren’t organized too well. Mr. Ostick himself often had to go out the night or two before the presents were due to buy them with money from his pocket.  Mr. Ostick wanted to find a new way to get more kids involved because of the joy that it brought knowing that you were helping a kid get presents on Christmas.

Three years ago, Mr. Ostick switched his method. After sending an email out to the parents of his homeroom, the kids seemed to be eager to help. Just this year he collected money from 12 out of 15 students to help their child, Zhamir. He encouraged the parents to take their sons to buy the presents. When all the presents were collected, Ostick set up Santa’s workshop in his classroom. When I visited, the students were wrapping the presents, with tape and wrapping paper everywhere.  Christmas music was blaring, and the best part is the holiday vibe that emanated from the room, showing the joy of giving in the Christmas season.

Another Best Nest homeroom story is that of Dr. Fry. He had a unique method of inspiration. He asked each member of his homeroom to contribute $20 for the presents or buy a present on their own. This seemed to work well, especially because of the inspiration of getting serenaded. Someone that met their quota for money or gifts was greeted by the song “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas”, sung by Dr. Fry, while students who failed to bring in their share were met with the sounds of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. If this didn’t inspire generosity, the donuts did. On an assigned morning, the presents were due and the wrapping began.  Like Mr. Ostick’s homeroom, the students did all the wrapping. Hot chocolate was served, donuts were provided, Christmas music was blaring, and everyone wore Santa hats to get in the Christmas spirit.

So, is it a letter to the parents that gets it done, or singing songs of praise and taunting?  Well, according to Mr. McGuire, it’s all in the name. He says he has never had as many donations for presents as this year (nearly $300), simply because of the name of his assigned child: Legend.  According to Mr. McGuire, “Legend puts the swag in Best Nest.”  Inspired and energized by the child’s unique name, his homeroom brought in money to get all of the presents that Legend wants and then some.

So, what is the best way for a homeroom to get all their presents for Best Nest? I’ll let you decide. It could be the name, but it could be much bigger than that.  At this time of year, people want to give for a good cause to help someone in need. Sure, we may never meet our Legends or Zhamirs, but we can be proud of our work and know that somewhere out there, people woke up happy on Christmas day because of Malvern’s spirit of giving.