More than 1,600 Frisco ISD students and their younger siblings will benefit from the generosity of others this holiday season.
Each December, the District partners with local charity, With Love It's a Small World, to make a difference in the lives of needy families.
Area businesses and organizations join FISD students, parents and employees in donating clothes, toys and other gifts by the truck loads.
“I’m blown away every year by the generosity,” said Randi Baker, FISD event specialist and Small World board member. “The things people will give to a kid that they don’t even know.”
Counselors at each school help identify potential angels and interested families participate in an application and interview process in the fall.
It takes two days to pick up all the donated items from schools across the District. Dozens of volunteers then spend days sorting and preparing a bag for each angel at the Frisco ISD Transportation West facility.
“When I first came in for this, I had no idea the size of the project,” said Jessica Benjamin, who decided to get involved three years ago after donating angel items through her children’s school. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this many families in our schools need help?’ and it pulled at my heart.”
Each bag – each row – is a labor of love.
Volunteers check each child’s bag to ensure it contains all of his or her needs and at least one wish. Sometimes that means last-minute trips to the store to purchase additional items.
“It’s like you’re putting it together for your own kid,” said fellow volunteer Cindy Slavin, whose children attend Purefoy Elementary. “You want them to have the best Christmas that they can.”
Each bag has a number, but no name. Behind each one is a story, but it’s one the volunteers and donors will never know.
Maybe a family is dealing with medical problems, job loss or another tough time. Or maybe they’re simply struggling to make ends meet.
“You just kind of get addicted to helping and creating these Christmas mornings for these kids,” Benjamin said.
This year, Small World got extra help from fellow non-profits Bed Start and Clothe-A-Child, who donated dozens of beds and thousands of dollars’ worth of Kohl’s Cash, respectively, to help the effort.
But sometimes, students need or want things the typical donor or partner organization can’t provide.
Baker recalls the time an angel requested piano lessons. And another who wanted tickets to take his family to the Dallas World Aquarium. In each case, Small World was able to make those children’s wishes a reality.
“We have a million stories,” Baker said. “If you can find the right people, everyone is willing to help.”
All the hard work pays off this year on December 17 and 18, when families come to pick up the items.