A Season of Giving at Our Pelham Bay Early Childhood Center

“We are loving the relationship we are building with the Pelham Bay Library and Lauren!” said PBECC Principal DeAnna Diamond.

Students, families, and staff at Birch Family Services’ Pelham Bay Early Childhood Center (PBECC) in the Bronx learned first hand what the Spirit of Giving is all about — with a little help from the St. Theresa’s School, Kris Kringle, and the United States Marine Corps.

Thanks to the efforts of maintenance worker Nick Obertello, PBECC partnered with St. Theresa’s School in a holiday gift drive that provided two large bags of toys to the Pre-K program. Meanwhile, Room 8 Teacher Krystal Milan-Lopez helped secure holiday gifts from Toys for Tots, a Marine Corps program that aims to “bring joy during the holiday season to America’s children through the distribution of toys.” Krystal launched her mission in August with a letter writing campaign that resulted in some eighty gifts for the PBECC community. Not to be outdone, Kris Kringle, himself, donated gifts to students as well. Many thanks to Krystal, Nick, and Josephine Fanelli, principal of the St. Theresa’s School, which is operated by St. Theresa’s Church, our landlord.

On December 6, a school-wide Pajama Day included reading a book under a canopy tent by flashlight, enjoying a visit from a secret reader — this time it was Buddy the Elf — and creating crafts inspired by Anna Dewdney’s beloved Llama Llama Red Pajama, in which Baby Llama turns bedtime into an all-out llama drama for his mama — not an uncommon experience around the holidays. Parents were also invited to school in December to help their budding artists create and fill a beautiful picture frame through an engaging hands-on activity.

Finally, Lauren Uruchima, librarian from the New York Public Library, Pelham Bay Branch, returned to PBECC to read to every class. Librarian Lauren has become a regular contributor to our school program, but you won’t hear a “Shhh!” out of her. While children listened the story, they also participated in three read alouds, an activity designed to encourage vocabulary development and gains in expressive and receptive language in preschoolers.

“We are loving the relationship we are building with the Pelham Bay Library and Lauren!” said PBECC Principal DeAnna Diamond.


The Birch Family Services’ Pelham Bay Early Childhood Center  is the newest of our preschool programs to open its doors to students with special needs. Our staff of talented and dedicated special education teachers, teaching assistants, and clinicians provide a nurturing and enriched learning environment for our students.

At Birch, we offer an array of pre-school education programs for children ages 3 – 5 years in unique environments appropriate for their individualized needs. Our early childhood programs provide educational and therapeutic interventions to young children which are designed to develop their skills and abilities. Parents and families are supported through workshops on various topics to assist them in understanding their child’s needs, the educational program designed for their child, and the educational process.