Photo: Learning Assistance Program Family and Community Engagement Coordinator Pat Roe and King  Family-Community Resource Center Coordinator Angel Banta set up items in the King holiday shop.

It was a toy high chair that caught the mother’s eye. She’d pedaled up the hill to King Elementary on her bicycle, her only means of transportation, to visit the school’s holiday shop, where she spotted the high chair. Excitement streamed across her face. “My daughter wanted one of these,” she said, tears forming. Into her backpack it went. A gift from one King family to another.

For many struggling families, King’s holiday shop, located in its Family-Community Resource Center, is what makes celebrations possible when there is no money for gifts. An estimated 300 students and younger siblings will receive new clothing, toys, and books this year. Best of all, there’s no cost to participate.

It’s a community effort, involving not only King families and staff members but also families from other parts of the district. For one family, giving to the shop transformed Black Friday into a quest for deals on items to donate. Those who have received gifts in the past have paid it forward. Strangers contribute. And more than a dozen of the Family-Community Resource Center’s faith-based and community partners also help make the shop a place where joy can be found.

Schools and organizations all over our community are working together this holiday season. At Hazel Dell Elementary, students collected jars of peanut butter for hungry kids in Clark County. Earlier this month, Jason Lee Middle School eighth-graders helped Hough students purchase and wrap gifts donated by the public. There are many more examples. Already more than 1,500 students and their families have benefited from the generosity of local churches, businesses, and individuals.

Meanwhile, staff and students broke records in the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools’ annual campaigns. Student donations were up 26 percent from last year, and employee pledges increased 16 percent, for a combined total of more than $200,000.

Clearly, our community takes care of its own. This happens all year long, but during the holidays this giving spirit shines extra brightly.

Thank you for caring about our students and about one another. And thank you for the work that you do every day.

Have a relaxing winter break!

Take care,

Image: Steve's signature