Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TOP STORY >> Help kids at Taylor Elementary

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s Murrell Taylor Elementary School is seeking help this year to assist 60 students and their families during Christmas with gifts and food.

School counselor Christine Lee said the school could only help for Christmas this year. Last year, 21 families signed up for assistance at Thanksgiving and 27 at Christmas.

Lee said there are many families that are unemployed and suffering.

“I’m surprised that we so had so many sign up. We ask no questions if they sign up. My premise is they ask, we provide,” Lee said.

Taylor Elementary is collecting food and toys from staff members, community partners and the public.

The school is making food baskets with nonperishable foods and a turkey to feed at least a family of four for Christmas.

Each class level is responsible for a specific canned good. For example, the kindergarten classes are collecting cans of green beans.

“We need turkeys. We’ll take any canned goods, cereal and dried beans,” Lee said.

“We have students eating breakfast and lunch here who may not have dinner.”

Many of those children take home food at night from the Arkansas Foodbank’s Backpack for Kids hunger program.

Taylor Elementary has 87 percent of their students on free or reduced lunch programs. The school has 30 students that are homeless. Some students are being raised by the grandparents.

People can chose to “adopt” a student and their family for Christmas by purchasing shoes, clothing or toys.

“One grandmother re-quested six sleeping bags for her six grandchildren. An anonymous donor bought the sleeping bags immediately and gave them to her. She came in and cried,” Lee said.

New or gently used toy donations are also needed. Lee suggested students give toys they’ve enjoyed and outgrown and are willing to share with someone else.

“These are the gifts they’ll remember giving forever,” she said.

Lee said books are another present idea for students, enabling them to start their own library at home.

She said parents will be greatly appreciate whatever is given to them.

Donations can be dropped off at Taylor Elementary or the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. The chamber requests that donations are brought no later than Dec. 20.

“It’s a community-wide effort. It’s an all-call to business, civic and religious organizations to show the students that the community cares,” chamber director Amy Mattison said.

For more information, call the school at 985-1581 or contact the chamber of commerce at 982-1511.

People who may want to also assist students and families in other Jacksonville schools should contact the counselor of that school.