MES Beta Club students and angel tree
By Karen Campbell
Special to The Press
With Thanksgiving break approaching Wednesday, the countdown to Christmas has begun for many students in the county. And, with the help of local schools, each community is ensuring that every child has the opportunity to find something under the tree this year.
A poll of schools reveals toys, coats, and clothes are among the items that teachers, counselors, administrators and student clubs help to match with those in need.
Students who qualify for the Weakley County Backpack program are provided with holiday boxes the first week of December. Inside they will find a ham and vegetables for a meal for four. Parents are asked prior to the distribution date if they desire a box and can pick up the items at the schools.
We CARE in Martin and Santa’s Helpers in Dresden, along with the Sheriff Department’s Shop with a Cop programs, all provide resources for families in need. Dresden Elementary and Dresden Middle schools try to avoid duplication with these organizations and therefore do not have a program of their own. However, DMS has its own food and toy drive where the students become the gift givers and donate to Santa’s Helpers.
DMS also provides coats to any child in need.
A long history of community support by churches and organizations has put Gleason School in more of the “middle-man” role, helping to link donors with the information needed regarding sizes, etc. Its Fellowship of Christian Athletes also sponsors families.
Sharon School students will be able to use the SOAR bucks they have earned for good behavior and attendance throughout the year to purchase Christmas gifts for themselves and their family members. Volunteers wrap presents and donations of toys and other gifts are accepted.
At Martin Primary, the gifts in the Christmas Assistance Program are focused on children who qualify for the Backpack Program. The suggestion is made to not spend more than $75 on a child, and, rather than exceed that limit, instead add another child.
Greenfield, Martin Elementary, Martin Middle, Dresden High School and Westview all have some form of an Angel Tree in effect. A tree is adorned with paper angels that include the wants/needs of children whose parents have provided the background information. Numbers, rather than names, allow for the angels to be specific but identities of the recipients to remain anonymous from everyone except administration.
Greenfield, assisted by the Greenfield Police Department and area churches, helped more than 100 students last year. The Student Council and teachers oversee setting up the tree and receiving gifts from the community.
Martin Elementary’s Junior Beta Club sponsors its Angel Tree. Martin Middle School’s Parent Advisory Board initiated the idea last year and anticipates serving approximately 15 to 20 students this year.
Dresden and Westview high schools are addressing the often looked-over teen-aged students who do not always receive as much attention as the younger children when it comes to Christmas gift-giving. Dresden’s Future Business Leaders of America sponsor the Angel Tree and faculty and students are encouraged to purchase a $25 Walmart Gift Card for their “angel.” Westview’s tree focuses on needed clothing.
All schools welcome community involvement. Deadlines for contributions range from Dec. 2 at Martin Elementary to Dec. 11 at Westview and Dec. 17 or 18 at Martin Middle, Sharon and Dresden High.
“We know that nearly two-thirds of our school population qualify for free or reduced lunches. We also know that for many families even working two and three jobs allows them to only take care of necessities,” said Randy Frazier, director of Weakley County Schools. “We are, as always, grateful for the community support of individuals, churches and organizations who give generously and without knowing who they are serving,” he added.
To participate as a donor, please contact the school or charitable organization.
Editor’s note: Karen Campbell is the Communications Director for Weakley County Schools. She may be contacted by email at Karen.Campbell@wcs-k12tn.net.