The vision statement of Central Elementary emphasizes that the school is a place where everyone is always valued and included. Ever year during the holiday season, Central’s community comes together to bring that vision to life with the annual Adopt-a-Family program. The event, which has been a long tradition at Central, raised over $2,400 this year and was able to support more than 100 of Central’s own students.
The Adopt-a-Family program utilizes spirit days, food and hygiene drives, and the teamwork of individual classrooms throughout the year to collect donations in the form of toys, clothes, food, money, toiletries, household items, and more, according to Central Elementary Principal Stacey King.
First grade teacher Dana Bush said the adopted families are chosen through recommendations given by faculty, as well as through the Central’s backpack program, “where families are given food to help them supplement their grocery purchases throughout the year,” Bush said.
“I think what is unique to our Adopt-a-Family program is that we raise funds, and gifts, and food for our own families and not for a local church or other campaign,” King said. “While it is confidential, we know that everything is going to our kids.”
While all of Central’s faculty and staff members are very passionate about the cause, it’s the students who also take time out of their day to support the program. “Our character council made up of fourth and fifth grade students volunteer to wrap presents and donate their proceeds to the program,” said school counselor Shannon Orzel.
“Some classrooms come together and sponsor a family as well,” said Bush. “This year, there are two third grade classes that sponsored a family together, and my first grade class sponsored a family as well. The very compassionate parents from my class have donated clothing, toys, food, and hygiene products for our family in need, and I’ve also had caring little first graders bring in their own piggy banks to donate.”
The program also receives help from different private sponsors and companies, including the Cottleville Fire Department, which only shows the giving and generous nature of Central’s community.
Bush knows that this program doesn’t only benefit those in need, but also helps her students learn about caring and compassion. “The students have all been very excited to chart our donations, and it has definitely raised our sense of community in our classroom.”
37 families will have a merry and fulfilled Christmas season this year, and it’s all thanks to this program and the diligent work of everyone involved at Central Elementary.