About 400 of the Brownsville Independent School District’s most deserving students each got their Christmas wish this year, thanks to an effort that paired unaccompanied children with district staff members who provided, wrapped and distributed the gifts.
Wednesday morning the parking lot at the Central Administration Building was a picture of organized chaos as staff loaded the gifts onto 14 district buses, with each taking gifts to four campuses.
At several campuses the children who received the gifts expressed surprise at receiving them but said they would wait until Christmas Eve or Christmas morning to open their gifts.
“They’re not with their biological parents, they’re with family, friends, older siblings, everybody. This is the busiest time of the year but the best time of the year,” Diana E. Clough, director of BISD’s Youth Connection Project, said of the gift-giving effort, dubbed Adopt an Angel.
Clough runs a program that looks out for the educational interests of homeless and unaccompanied youth under the McKinney-Vento Act. She identified the children who would receive gifts and asked them to fill out a wish list. Volunteers then went to work fulfilling wishes.
Meanwhile, the entire campus at Skinner Elementary School received a Christmas stocking filled with pencils, candies, chips, apples and oranges and other goodies donated by the community in an effort started by BISD Board of Trustees president Jessica G. Gonzalez during her days as a parent volunteer.
“We started it at one campus and we would give a personal stocking to every single student enrolled,” Gonzalez said. “Now as a board member that initiative has grown. Today we’re doing Skinner, yesterday we did Morningside and tomorrow we’re going to Palm Grove Elementary, plus we got some classes here and there. I did a classroom at Castaneda, a behavior intervention unit at Egly and then a classroom at Perez Elementary,” she said.
“All of this is through donations from the community and the help of parent volunteers at every campus,” she said. “Here at Skinner it was a surprise, all 340 students got a stocking, so I got some volunteers from Morningside to help me.”
At Putegnat Elementary, Rosalva Larrasquitu, director of the Parent & Family Engagement Department, passed out the Adopt an Angel gifts, saying Santa had been “so busy delivering gifts all over the world that he called us to deliver a gift to each one of you.”
As she did, Principal Aidee Vasquez said, “all our faculty and staff adopted kids, so this morning more than 50 of our kids apart from these kids, received a gift.”