Thursday, November 17, 2016

2016 Christmas Giving Tree Drive for Alsup is Starting!

2016 Christmas Drive is starting!  Please read, we are changing it up!

11 years ago I had a crazy idea.  I thought that maybe, just maybe, my small group of family and friends would each be able to contribute a dollar or two to my 2nd grade class here in Commerce City so I could get them a small Christmas gift.  Nothing much, just a game and a pair of socks.  So I wrote an email and forwarded it, not hoping for much.
It happened. 

The next year, I wrote another email, hoping to add toothbrushes and a book to the bags.  That email got forwarded along and posted on blog posts where even more people saw it.
It happened again.

The next year, I was contacted by Sgt. Alex of Buckley Air Force Base here in Colorado and he had seen my email and wanted to organize a gift drive for my class.  He had officers come in uniform and even brought a Santa along with gifts for my entire class.
It happened.

For 8 years after that, the Christmas Drive has exploded beyond my wildest dreams.  One year, an actress in Hollywood picked it up and provided electronics and books for every kid in the 2nd grade…over 100 kiddos.  The Air Force wanted to “make it bigger”, and they provided gifts for the entire 2nd grade from then on.  Another year, we had a child suffering from a brain tumor and we were able to provide gifts, clothing, cash, and an actual wheelchair for him and food, clothes, a TV, groceries, and support to his family. You made handmade quilts for all my students, you knitted hats, you sent brand-new boots, shoes, coats, pajamas, and countless amounts of clothes, books, and school supplies for them to take home and use. You held bake sales, book parties, and craft fairs to raise money for my little ones. There are two high school girls in Boulder who have made it their mission for the last 10 years to come to school and pass out stockings full of gifts to over 100 kids.   

 Just last year, our biggest year ever, we got the support of not only all of you and your family and friends, but local Girl Scout troops collected clothes, games, books, and gifts for my entire school.   We had Christmas Trees and turkey dinners given.  The Air Force continues to come and bring not only Christmas gifts, but school supplies as well.  You provided glasses for a little girl and her mom who desperately needed them.  You sent your own hard-earned cash so a family could move out of their car and into a hotel for a week.  You provided a Christmas tree for a family who had just gotten out of the homeless shelter and finally had a place of their own, but just not enough for the extras.  You provided groceries for over 15 families for the holiday break when they no longer are receiving school lunches and need the help.  The entire gym was filled with clothes in all sizes, shoes, coats, games, pajamas, and everything and anything the kiddos would want…and it was distributed and gone within 6 hours.  The extent of love that is poured onto my community of hard-working people and children here at my school who just need a holiday boost…is overwhelming, to say the least.

This year, after 11 years of organizing, distributing, shopping, and having my heart and soul filled to the brim with your love and generosity for my little babies that you’ve never met…we are changing it.  We still need your help, but we need it in a different way.  Please read about the new Christmas Drive below, watch the link of the magic you’ve been able to create over the years, and please, still forward and/or contribute if you feel able.  The needs here at school haven’t changed much, so every single dollar, coat, pair of pjs, socks, pencils, etc. will still make it into the hands of little ones who desperately need it.

2016 Christmas Giving Tree at Alsup Elementary

Friends…the students and families at Alsup need your help.  We have a family whose dad drowned in a tragic accident over the summer, leaving a young mom alone with 4 kiddos to support…and no insurance.  We have a family who took in two children from an abusive home and they are struggling to make it.  We have countless families who are one power bill away from having the heat shut off, their kids coming to school in the same clothes day after day, no socks or coats.  We have a family whose dad has back problems and hasn’t been able to work and the 15 year old dropped out of school to help.  We have a family whose little brother is fighting a rare form of cancer and both parents have stopped working to be by his side during his treatment.  Not to mention the less dramatic stories of families who moved to Commerce City for the Section 8 housing, who rely on food stamps and the food bank for their survival and have nothing extra for Christmas for their little ones.  Not even the money left for a tree…as that would take away cash for the heating bill, and one needs to make those hard choices.

THESE are the families I am asking…no, pleading for your help with.  I will no longer be doing the mass handout of gifts to everyone.  We have many….many truly needy families in our building and they are the ones I’m aiming to help this year.  I’m asking for your help.

Along with my school staff, I’ve organized a list of families who need a holiday boost…whether it be in gifts, clothing, a Christmas tree, or help with their electric bill.   The Christmas Drive this year will be in the form of a “Giving Tree.”  So here’s how it will work:

If you’d like to buy for a child, or an entire family, message me, or comment on this post, and I will give you a list of gender and ages. If you’d rather send cash or an online Target gift card, like in our last 12 years, you can still do that.  I will assign it to one of the families and will go shopping for that specific child or family and make sure your entire gift is applied to them.  I’m trying to make this as easy on you as possible.

As always: if you have clothes, books, school supplies, or gifts/gift cards to send, you can ALWAYS send them to:  
Alsup Elementary School
c/o Mara Redenbarger
7101 Birch Street
Commerce City, CO  80022

My helpers here at school will be sure they will be marked and distributed to the families on our “Giving Tree.”

Please contact me if you have any questions about these changes, or if you’d like a picture of the kiddo/kiddos whom you’ll be helping, or any other information at all.   I’m not including the “Dear Santa” letters this year, as sadly, they don’t seem to change.  I’m not sure if that will affect your generosity, but as I’ve seen it explode over the last 11 years….I have the utmost confidence that every gift we receive from you this year will brighten the heart and soul of the little ones here.  To know that someone out there cares about them is a memory that doesn’t quickly fade.

As always…I can’t possibly thank you for your outpouring of love, support, and heart that you send every year.  The kids and families benefit, that’s true, but the real winner in this every year is me.  This holiday season especially, when so much around us seems to be dividing and separating us…

We belong together.  I thank you in advance for always proving that love is stronger than hate and division, and you continuously care for the little people here at my little school more than I could ever imagine.

Love to you all and Happy Holidays.


 p.s.  Just go to YouTube and search for "Alsup Christmas."  There are quite a few more videos that will be sure to warm your heart and are more than worth watching!

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