Unfortunately for many this is a season of stress; worrying about how to make ends meet providing for their families. Every year no matter what school district I am in, we always team up with a community agency/organization as a school community to help provide gifts during the holiday season to those in need. Depending on the year and the school we have been able to help upwards of 25 families each holiday season! WOW! This is most definitely one of the other reasons why I love this time of year, helping others!
I contact our community agency/ organization in early November to get a list of families in our community and the wish list of gifts the children and parents would like or need. The gifts generally range from socks and clothing items to toys and gifts cards. I then create a spreadsheet in Excel and use 'mail merge' to create labels for each item or group of items requested for each individual. Generally each child has about 6 snowflakes/ snowmen and each adult has about 4 with a label on each.
An example of a snowman that is located on the bulletin board at school.
In the main lobby/ hallway of my school I created a bulletin board (literally created from scratch this year because our new school doesn't have any bulletin boards!) with snowflakes and snowmen each individually labeled with a gift item needed.
I send home a letter to parents and students explaining how our school is helping to support families in our own community during the holidays. Parents can either grab a snowflake/ snowman off of the board during parent-teacher conferences or when they are in school volunteering. They can also contact me by phone or email to have one sent home. Staff also participates in the season of giving.
Above is a copy of the letter that I sent home to families this year.
We ask that all gifts purchased are delivered to school by mid December with the snowflake or snowman securely attached. Then as a staff we have a 'wrapping party' after school to wrap all of the gifts and organize them by family. I then load up my car and bring them all to the community agency/ organization. I LOVE IT!! :)