Van Duyn Elementary School receives a special gift as a result of a chance encounter

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Van Duyn Elementary School Principal Eva Williams invited her friend Krista Belladonna to visit the school and see the nutcrackers she has on display. Just one week ago they were strangers in a store shopping.

“Every Christmas I go to Michaels and I look at those nutcrackers and I think, my sister loves nutcrackers and how much it would mean if I got her a nutcracker,” Belladonna explained.

Williams was also looking at nutcrackers that day. There were two in particular that piqued her interest.

“We needed these nutcrackers,” Williams said. “They look like the children in this school and they’re beautiful.”

The price was keeping her from getting them. “Two of them came to $500. That’s a lot of money,” Williams explained that was the marked down price.

Belladonna overheard Williams talking about the price with a store employee. “I heard the passion in her voice and, like I said, I knew those nutcrackers needed to be here,” Belladonna recalled.

She bought both of them. While this good deed certainly helped Williams and the school, Belladonna needed some good cheer herself.

“It was kind of a bad morning,” Belladonna explained. “I had a tough week with my father going into hospice. I had said to my husband, I am never going to go out on a Saturday morning before Christmas, but I had to. I needed something.”

She got much more than she was shopping for — a friend.

“We don’t know each other that well, but the little that we have talked, it’s like, that’s me,” Belladonna said with a smile.

This week she came to Van Duyn to see those two nutcrackers and to visit with the students.

The children thanked her for the gift. “I feel so proud. My children see themselves,” Williams said.

That gift is priceless.

Principal Williams says she plans to display the nutcrackers even after the holidays as a way to inspire students and staff at Van Duyn.

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