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Spirit of Giving - December 2017

As we approach the holiday season, it is a perfect time to reflect and be thankful for the wonderful blessings that come our way. The spirit of giving is all around us. It is amazing that with all the responsibilities you have, many of you go above and beyond the call of duty to meet the needs of our students.  I would like to recognize a few of those major giving initiatives.

First, I would like to thank you for your tremendous giving to the United Way. The total amount raised by staff was a record $21,101!  I want to recognize the three outstanding campuses that made exceptional giving levels: Avant Elementary School, Mason/Clark Middle School and Younge Alternative Center. Every dollar raised counts, as funds stay in the community and benefit local agencies like Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House and the Christian Activity Center.

The spirit of giving didn’t stop there. Staff stepped up once more this year to donate much-needed toys to the annual Marine Toys for Tots Toy Drive and shoes for Kicks 4 the City. The donations from these campaigns also stay and benefit the students and families within the East St. Louis community.

The spirit of giving has also been demonstrated by our community partners as well. Without them, many of our students would be without needed services and supports. I would like to take a moment to recognize a few.  

A major giving initiative that takes place every year is the Casino Queen’s Santa Land event. For the past twenty-four years, the Casino Queen has given elementary students a gift-wrapped bag of toys. District AmeriCorps and staff members volunteer their time to set up the Santa Land display, assemble gift bags and greet students with their gift as they walk through a winter wonderland display. Thank you to all the AmeriCorps and staff members who work quietly behind the scene to make the holidays brighter for over 1,700 preschool and elementary students.

For the last several years, volunteers from Mt. Sinai Church and Sinai Family Development Center have also worked with school staff members to provide 200 coats to elementary students in the district. We are very grateful to Mt. Sinai for their continued outreach to our students and to the community.

As you know, having enough to eat is an ever present challenge for many of our students and their families. The St. Louis Area Foodbank has provided monthly donations of fresh food and pantry staples to benefit the local community. AmeriCorps members and students at Younge Alternative Center distribute the food donations monthly through the Flyers Feeding Family initiative. Additionally, our food service partner, Chartwells, has again donated 200 frozen turkeys that were distributed to families in need before Thanksgiving. We are deeply grateful for the ongoing support from these two organizations.

Finally, a nice spirit of giving outreach I want to acknowledge is the donations made to District 189 families through the United Way’s 100 Neediest Program. Forty-seven families, identified and nominated by their school social worker, have received a total of $6,380 in monetary donations as well as beds, toys, clothing, and shoes as needed. We are grateful to Dr. Tesha Robinson for organizing this program and ensuring these families received additional support.

Remember that blessed people are not those who receive more, but those who give more. They give without the thought of what they will receive. Simple acts of kindness such as giving to a charity or to a person in need have a positive impact on the giver. We need to also remember that sharing our time and talents is also an important act of giving.

Take time during the break to reflect on the past year and focus on goal-setting for the upcoming year. For your benefit, I have attached a draft copy of our District Strategic Plan. This is also posted on the homepage of our website (Link to Strategic Plan Overview).  I encourage you to take some time to review the outlined plan and reflect on your role within it. We welcome feedback to the draft plan between now and December 31. Feedback can be made on a link through the district homepage or here: Feedback Form for Strategic Plan