While many people were giving candy and flowers to their loved ones for Valentine’s Day, fifth-graders at Locust Valley Intermediate School gave much more meaningful gifts to people they don’t even know.

Embracing the sentiment of Valentine’s Day, the students and their teachers created Socks for Love for the homeless and underprivileged population in neighboring communities. Each student brought in a pair of socks and personal items such as toothpaste, deodorant and shower gel, and filled the socks with the toiletries. Handmade valentines with personalized sentiments were attached to the socks with red and pink ribbons and then donated to the North Shore Inn in Glen Cove.

The fifth-grade classes joined together in the cafeteria to fill the socks with the special gifts. First, they listened to Olga Scileppi, a volunteer at the soup kitchen, talk about the importance of their donations. “I applaud you for being here and for having the will and desire to do something for others,” she said. “Kindness builds confidence. I hope you will be inspired to continue.”

Fifth-grade teacher Katie Smith addressed the students, asking them how Scileppi’s comments fit in with the lessons they’ve been learning at school. “There are many rewards for helping other people,” she reminded them. The students’ responses made it clear that they had been paying attention. One fifth-grader announced that during her upcoming vacation, she would collect the free samples that hotels leave for guests in order to donate them to those in need when she returns.

When all of the socks were filled, tied with ribbons and ready to go, students were asked to write on a piece of paper how the activity made them feel. The words caring, kindhearted, open-minded and knowledgeable filled those pieces of paper. Smith explained that the activity and the resulting feelings the students expressed fit perfectly with the IB Learner Profile, which is part of the curriculum.

Scileppi left with boxes filled with Socks for Love and said the donations will make a difference in the lives of those receiving them.