Please Join Me in Assisting Needy Children In Our Community
I've met hundreds of inspiring people during the two years that I've served as superintendent in Adams 12. The job introduced me to Noel Cunningham, the Denver restauranteur who worked tirelessly throughout the Denver community to gather resources to assist improverished families in Ethiopia, and whose recent passing has been mourned by thousands; Shelley Becker, our District's new chief financial officer, who has worked with women in Uganda so that they can become financially self-sufficient by making and selling jewelry; Karen Loucks Rinedollar, who founded Project Linus while living in Douglas County so that children battling cancer could have a homemade, comforting blanket, and who planted a seed that has since resulted in the creation of more than 350 Project Linus chapters throughout the country and distribution of over 4,000,000 blankets to seriously ill and traumatized children; and Darla Brand, a member of our central office team in Adams 12, who has coordinated our building's effort to provide Christmas gifts to the many needy families throughout our school system. Each of them has connected their inner passion for people in need with focused, purposeful action.
Many of the students in our schools have made the same connection between passion and action; listening to them, and watching them in action, is the best part of my job. As we draw near to the Christmas holiday, when millions of people throughout the world will celebrate the birth of a precious child, it is fitting to talk about the work of one of our students which is focused upon providing assistance to the many precious children in our community.
I met Megan Sandstrum a couple of months ago at a board of education meeting. She's a freshman at Legacy High School, and she approached the Board that evening to ask all of the District's leaders to support the work of A Precious Child, a local charity that she's supported as a volunteer. A Precious Child supports children in need throughout our school district in a variety of ways. They solicit donations of gently used clothing for both children and adults, sort it and display it attractively, and provide needy families with a "personal shopper" to help them find needed items and sizes; accept donations of new toys and clothing for delivery to families prior to Christmas; receive gently used sports equipment, including soccer balls, basketballs and hockey sticks, so that students with limited economic resources have opportunities to be physically active outside of school hours; and accept financial contributions throughout the year so that they can be responsive to needs not addressed through donated items.
Megan and Carina Martin, founder of A Precious Child, took me on a tour of their facilities earlier this week. I was so impressed by this charity's work in gathering so many quality items for the needy in our community and the respectful, dignified manner in which they interacted with their customers. I also noted, however, that some of the most essential items for warmth and comfort in the cold winter months, including coats, gloves, hats and boots, were in very short supply. I reflected back on a conversation I had a week earlier with Kathi Mullins, a health aide at Federal Heights Elementary, who shared that more than 250 of the school's 650 students were absent on a recent cold and snowy day. Over 80 percent of our students at Federal Heights qualify for free lunch status, which means that, for a family of four, their gross annual income is less than $29,000. I wondered how many of those students -- and how many of the other students who have missed school during this cold December -- did not attend because they do not have adequate winter clothing. Given that 44 percent of the 24,000 elementary and middle school students in Adams 12 qualify for free and reduced lunch and are members of families struggling to provide for life's basic necessities in these difficult economic times, my hypothesis is that thousands of students are foregoing school attendance on the coldest days because of inadequate clothing.
If you share Megan and Carina's passion for assisting those less fortunate, and if you have clothing, toys, or financial resources that you can donate to the noble work they've engaged in to serve our community, I hope that you'll visit their website -- www.apreciouschild.org -- or give them a call at 303-466-4272 -- to learn more about how you can help and where you can take your donations.
I'm grateful to Megan, Carina, and the thousands of others in our Five Star community who give unselfishly of their time, talents, and financial resources to make it a better place. I have the opportunity to interact often with the students you've touched with your generosity -- and on their behalf I extend a deep and sincere thank you.