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Sharing the Spirit of the Holidays: Adopt-a-Family

By Beth Newingham on December 17, 2012
  • Grades: 3–5

I teach in a school where most of my students live with parents who provide a fairly comfortable living environment for their kids. My students often see the holidays as a time to receive the newest and greatest toys of the season, and they are not always aware of the many children living so close to them who receive no gifts for the holidays or whose parents who are struggling just to buy groceries and purchase clothes for the cold weather.

Melodie Myrick, the kindergarten teacher at my school, has been adopting a family with her class for years. In lieu of teacher gifts (which nearly every child at our school buys for the teacher), she asks students to donate from a list of items to the family her class adopts each year.

When adopting a family, the class is given some information about the family. For example, you might know that you are shopping for a 5-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy who live with their single mother. While there may be some toys on the list, the list of necessary items to purchase mainly includes essential food and items of clothing.

Each family can be assigned items from the list, or you can create a sign-up sheet so that parents can choose whether or not they will participate in the service project. This project emphasizes the importance of giving to others, as it puts the meaning of the holiday season into perspective for those students who still think of Christmas only as a time to receive.

There are many local organizations you can contact to help you find a family in need, but the Salvation Army is the most universally known organization that matches impoverished families with individual or group sponsors to provide for their tangible needs during the holidays. Find more information about contacting the Salvation Army office nearest your school.

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