Frisco ISD and its many partners – Small World, Frisco Dodge, the Frisco Police Department, the Frisco Women’s League and many generous campus donors – are playing Santa’s helper for more than 1,200 students this year as part of the Frisco ISD Small World Angel Program.
With Love It’s A Small World is a nonprofit organization that began working with Frisco ISD in 1998 to help provide coats, clothes, shoes, bikes and toys to Frisco ISD families in need. Jim White of Small World recalls that is the year the organization officially became involved, though he and other founding members began reaching out to students in the District as far back as 1996.
“We used to take gifts out to the chicken farms where some of the families worked,” White said.
Today, approximately 11 percent of Frisco ISD students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Families who wish to participate in the Angel Program must fill out paperwork and show proof of income. The program tries to reach as many needy students as possible, while avoiding overlap with other charitable organizations.
Parents are asked to fill out forms with student sizes and needs. The list includes basics such as coats, pants, shirts, shoes, socks and underwear. While many “angels” are adopted by FISD classrooms and employees, others are provided for through donations made by Small World or other organizations.
“This year we have received great support from some of our partners,” said Randi Baker, Frisco ISD event specialist and Angel Program coordinator. “Clothe a Child gave us all their Kohl’s Cash and we were able to go and get a start on some of our more frequently-needed items. We try to fill the wish lists of parents and students from the donations, but sometimes we need to go to our ‘store’ to look for a substitution or to complete a bag.”
Frisco Dodge and the Frisco Police Department also teamed up this year to make a sizable contribution to the Angel Program. Frisco Dodge donated $10,000 to the Police Department to support the program. Police officers and student volunteers went shopping for bikes, doll houses and a huge box of Nerf guns to donate to the Angel Program.
When the police trailer arrived at program headquarters, one volunteer happily applauded as she saw a doll house being unloaded in the first wave of toys.
“I just got a request for a doll house,” Jenn Jeacock said.
Frisco Police Officer Benny Valdez admitted that he would love to have the box of Nerf guns – he settled for the joy of unloading it from the trailer.
Valdez and fellow officer Colby Hill took a tour of Angel Program operations following their delivery, noting the paper trail involved in filling each list and the many steps involved in bringing joy to students.
“For many, the holidays are a time of celebration. It's a time when family comes together to celebrate all the wonderful things that they have been blessed with,” Hill observed. “There are some, though, that the holidays are a time of stress and sadness because they just don't have the means to give their families everything they desire. With the generous donation to our 3rd annual toy drive from Frisco Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and Managing Partner Shawn Swenson, we able to continue helping others this holiday season.”
The Angel Program gives each FISD campus, student and family the chance to share their generosity through donations of gift wrap, gift cards, cash, bikes, clothing or toys.
Riddle Elementary donated 46 bikes to the program this year. Staley Middle School held a drive to collect underwear, socks, scarves and gloves. Other campuses held drives for tablets or gift cards. Employees at the FISD Administration Building also adopted angels.
“It is a chance for everyone to participate,” Baker said.
White expressed his appreciation for the tremendous support of the Small World Angel Program. He said he sees the community’s willingness to give back as a continued sign of hope for families struggling in Frisco ISD.