Striving to make the holidays happier for people far and near, students in schools across Long Island collected everything from toiletries to toys to winter clothing for those in need.

In Lynbrook, South Middle School’s Student Council sponsored a toy drive to benefit the Little St. Nick Foundation, a nonprofit created by alum Raymond Mohler Jr. that provides gifts to lift the spirits of hospitalized kids. The organization has donated some 500,000 toys, games and other items to hospitals since its inception in 2003.

“When I was younger I was in the hospital, so I know how it helps to have toys and games to keep you busy,” Lynbrook South eighth-grader and council member John Kelhetter said.

In Glen Cove, Connolly Elementary School’s K-Kids Club filled shoe boxes with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for underprivileged children overseas as part of the “Operation Christmas Child” program of Samaritan’s Purse, a humanitarian aid organization.

Archer Street Elementary School in Freeport hosted a “giving tree” in which students donated food and paper goods that then were given to families in need by Our Holy Redeemer Parish Outreach. The names of all donors were displayed on paper leaves.

In Syosset, Robbins Lane Elementary School’s Student Council and Chorus Cares Club collected 247 pairs of gently used and new shoes and boots to benefit those in need through the nonprofit Heeling Soles.

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EAST ROCKAWAY

Gingerbread contest

Krystal Buffetti and Katherine Delvalle, seniors at East Rockaway High School and culinary arts students at Nassau BOCES’ Joseph M. Barry Career & Technical Education Center, bested 70 other creations to win first place in a gingerbread house competition at the 27th annual Long Island Festival of Trees.

The event, held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, included an array of Christmas trees decorated in various themes as well as a gingerbread village — all for sale, with proceeds benefiting the Cradle of Aviation and United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County.

OCEANSIDE

Nurses 2B

South Nassau Communities Hospital has launched a program titled Nurses 2B, designed to introduce youths to nursing in an effort to combat the declining number of students entering the profession. It is named after the hospital’s pediatric unit, referred to as 2B on the hospital’s campus map.

Twenty-six high school students completed the inaugural semester last spring, with another 21 enrolled this fall. The program includes six 90-minute seminars presented by nurses in clinical practices ranging from the emergency department to the operating room.

“By introducing high school students to the field of nursing now, we hope it will deepen their passion for careers in nursing,” said Sue Penque, senior vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer.

ISLANDWIDE

Early childhood education

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Nearly 500 Long Island educators gathered last month for a first-time conference that included workshops and lectures on improving early childhood education.

The event, held at the Melville Marriott, was presented by Long Island Pre-K Initiative, which identifies challenges to local preschool education and creates strategies to meet them.

The initiative is administered by Nassau BOCES in partnership with Eastern Suffolk BOCES, Western Suffolk BOCES and the Child Care Councils of Nassau and Suffolk, and is funded by a grant co-administered by the Rauch and Hagedorn foundations.

“Children need to be taught differently when they are younger, and this conference provides educators with the opportunity to share best practices and developmentally appropriate strategies,” event chair Adrienne Robb-Fund said.