Marianne Kraft talks a lot about gifts. This being the Christmas season, you might think she was referring to the dozens of presents wrapped in holiday paper and stuffed into gift bags that take up a good chunk of space just inside Saint Athanasius School in the Bronx.
There are gifts aplenty, but not for the 300 children who attend this Catholic school in Hunts Point where she is principal (and where I attended first grade). They are care packages for disabled, impoverished adults in a nursing home in New Rochelle, over the border in Westchester County, who need basics like toiletries, sweaters, razors or blouses. They were donated by the families of students at the school, which has stood firm in this area through the fires and crime of the 1970s right up through today, where new homes — and new neighbors — occupy once-ravaged blocks.