Kenowa Hills — ‘Twas the Tuesday before Christmas, and all through Alpine Elementary, not a teacher was teaching and the school welcomed families.
Cafeteria tables were covered with clothes, toys and other gifts, in hopes that students’ parents could cross shopping and wrapping off their lists.
The children were crafting all snug in a nearby classroom, while their parents ate Christmas cookies and shopped in the lunchroom.
For the past few years, Alpine has invited around 30 families based on need to visit their Snowflake Shop after school and select Christmas gifts, at no cost, for their students.
Third-grade teacher Brooke Johnston explained how staff members collect donations from friends and the community all year to stock the shop.
“Our original plan was to provide books, toys and coats for the children from these families,” she said, “but we have a very generous staff and connections with other partners so we have added stocking stuffers, crafts, games, blankets, clothes and household items this year.”
Holiday music played while parents and grandparents carefully selected smaller items as stocking stuffers. If they were searching for socks or shoes in certain sizes, Alpine staff members were quick to assist.
After families chose their items, volunteers from other schools in the district and Kenowa Hills High School National Honor Society members wrapped and addressed each gift in festive paper and shiny bows.
Each family invited to the shop also got a cookie decorating kit and basket of toiletries and cleaning products to take home with their shopping haul.
Said Johnston, “We recognize that some of our families are doing their very best, but they face challenges that can make Christmas a stressful time of the year.”
Second-grade teacher Julie Mortimore added that the Snowflake Shop meets many holiday season needs.
“Having more donations opens this event up to more families and gives parents voice and choice when picking out their kids’ Christmas gifts,” she said.
Read more from Kenowa Hills:
• ‘Hello, this is your child’s teacher. She’s doing great!’
• At school or home, reading is a family affair