Chances are a Pleasanton student may not know that a handful of the 30 or so children in one of his or her classrooms may have been expecting a not-so-bountiful Thanksgiving feast this year, or a lack of gifts and festive food come Christmas time.
Thankfully, for those families in need, community organizers at many schools in the host fundraising and gift-card collection drives to help those families enjoy the holidays better than they otherwise might.
Three days before the Thanksgiving began, families received an email saying that the community outreach team was “a wee bit panicked.”
The all-volunteer committee had only received enough donations to help three Hart families in need of Thanksgiving food.
A few days later, the committee had collected enough gift card donations to give $100 to each of 17 Hart Families in need.
That same week, Pleasanton Patch reached out to schools in the district to learn how other school communities help their families. Some astonishing acts of kindness include “giving trees,” gift card donations and several schools collecting nonperishable foods for the Alameda County food banks.
Among the acts of holiday kindness from your neighborhood schools:
Hart Middle School Holidays of Hope
In addition to the $1,700 in donations Hart Middle School was able to round up in the few days before Thanksgiving, volunteer Janeen Brumm said the school community has collected $1,200 for the Hart Holidays of Hope campaign to serve families for the winter holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah.
“Families struggling through these difficult financial times are identified confidentially by staff and treated to gift cards to help with food and gifts during the holidays,” said Brumm.
Gift Cards for families
Amador parent Tamra Girvan, who runs the school’s Crisis and Caring Campaign, said that this year she hopes to see more donations from the community to support nearly 50 families in need.
“We were able to help out 35 families with $50 grocery gift cards for Thanksgiving,” she said.
“But right now we need more donations for Christmas because we’re a long way from our goal of helping 50 families with $50 in gift cards to either Target or Walmart.”
Stores like Target and Walmart, she said, allow families the freedom to spend the donations on food, clothing or gifts, depending on their needs.
“It’s all done anonymously, which I really like,” said Girvan.
“The counselors just give me the numbers of families and everything stays completely confidential.”
In addition, the Amador PTSA donates Amador sweatshirts to students of families in need.
Giving Tree for Community
At Hearst Elementary, principal Michael Kufal said the school’s PTA’s “Caring Heart” committee hosts an annual Giving Tree Program to help Hearst families in need. The program opened Nov. 1 and collections continue through Dec. 16.
Harvest Park Middle School
principal Ken Rocha said that this year the school’s outreach community ran a food donation drive to help 20 Harvest Park families serve up Thanksgiving meals. The same 20 families will benefit from a Winter Holiday outreach program.
More Giving at Mohr
school secretary Janet Wolfinger said that each year the school’s “Friends Helping Friends Club” conducts holiday canned food drives to support Mohr community families in need. Each classroom at the school collects a different kind of food and the committee sorts the foods into basket presentations. Each donation to a family is made confidentially and contains a variety of food to each family.
Got Coats? Pleasanton Middle School helps families in need of warm coats
With cooler weather arriving, is running a coat collection drive for families in need.
For more information on how to donate, email Gabi Klein at GKlein@Pleasanton.k12.ca.us
Lydiksen Elementary Giving Tree for December holidays
administrative secretary, Diana Liggett, said that each year the school administration confidentially reaches out to Lydiksen families to ask if they need the community's assistance. Families looking for help complete a form describing the needs and wants of each family member. Then, each of these families lists is tagged with an alphabetical letter to protect their privacy.
“We make up tags with the families letter and what each person wants,” said Liggett. “Then parents, staff and scout groups take tags and go shopping, returning the gifts to the committee.”
This year, said Liggett, the school is supporting 27 Lydiksen families.
“Everything is wrapped and the principal and school secretary deliver the bags of gifts to the families,” she said.
These donation drives are amongst the many ways residents can help ease the financial strain of people whose holiday struggles might not be obvious.