NEWPORT – For the past few years, a para-educator at Rogers High School has organized a closet and pantry for her students. The effort grew into a Thanksgiving food drive and Christmas gift drive specifically to serve older students and their families.
The closet allows students in the alternative learning program to have snacks and water, but also provides hygiene products and clothing when needed. Currently, 56 students are part of the ALP. Some of them take one or two courses, while others attend full time.
âThere is a very high correlation between absenteeism and children who miss the simpler things,â said para-educator Jean McLaughlin. “For example, if they run out of shower gel or soap, they won’t come to school. If their clothes are dirty and the washing machine is broken, they won’t come to school.”
During the holidays, McLaughlin and his team worked to keep the spirit of the season alive for these students. As of Thanksgiving, they were able to donate 36 full turkey dinners to families and are working to make sure these students have gifts to open on Christmas Day.
“A lot of them are living on the poverty line, living in housing, coming from backgrounds that don’t allow them to get the most out of vacations. They are tough on people, especially during COVID,” McLaughlin said.
Students were asked to make wish lists, McLaughlin said.
“They didn’t ask for anything big. They asked for sweatpants, sweatshirts, a few soccer balls, a basketball. They are really very humble, and some of the kids cry when we drop things off.” , she said.
Some have asked for Airpods and gift cards at fast food restaurants, Stop & Shop, and Walmart.
So far, each student will receive blankets and a pair of custom Islides sandals, and they are currently working on collecting enough Champion sweatshirts and black socks to give to the students.
Give a little happiness
One person working to make sure these students have a great vacation is Melody Mulcahey, who is hosting a fundraiser to support this effort on December 12.
âSo many rides are done for the younger ones and everyone wants to keep the holiday spirit to them, and it’s so easy to start watching the kids who are getting older because they ‘know better and should understand’,â he said. she declared. . “Some of them might be working and the spirit kind of gets lost, but they’re still kids. They’re still our kids. They’ll always want that Christmas spirit.”
Mulcahey said she has been working with this program for a few years because she can personally relate to being a teenager and still wanting that holiday spirit. She said she feels like the teens are being left out, so she’s having a fundraiser and raffle.
âWe end up giving them the sweatshirts, the hats, the gloves. I hope that with the raffle we can try to give them all as a gift. Something that is not a necessity. ‘they can enjoy having as opposed to something that is a necessity, âshe said.
Mulcahey said she knows not everyone celebrates Christmas, it’s about spreading the holiday spirit and joy.
âFor me, it’s more about giving a little piece of holiday happiness, love and joy. We see everyone marketing the holiday season happiness, and you feel down at times and just need to. with a push. It’s the holiday season. I want to spread joy, happiness. It sounds silly, “she said.
Brunch with Santa Claus
The fundraiser, a brunch with Santa Claus, will take place at the Wayfinder Hotel on Sunday, December 12, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., where 31 small businesses have come together and donated prizes to the raffle and to several of their stores.
“All the money raised in the raffle will be used for this. In addition, we also collect donations. We have already had quite a few people in the community who have said that they will also drop off items,” he said. she declared.
There will be around 20 baskets full of goods to be won, such as decorations, gift certificates from local restaurants and chocolates.
“We are expecting a few hundred people throughout the day,” she said.
For more information on how to donate to this effort, contact Mulcahey by email at [email protected]
Bethany Brunelle-Raja can be reached at [email protected] 575-644-1223 or @bethanyfreuden1 on Twitter, Insta: bethanyfreudenthal, TikTok: Ãªtremrsraja, Muckrack: https://muckrack.com/bethany-freudenthal