‘Twas the Season for Giving and Making Memories

The holiday season may be behind us, but the memories made will live on forever. Students and staff at Desert Sands Unified School District found a number of ways to make memories for those less fortunate

DSUSD Helps Less Fortunate, Makes Memories

Santa made a delivery to Thomas Jefferson Middle School!

Both Amistad and Summit high schools’ student government students, as part of the nationwide Friday Night Live program collected blankets for those in need. Close to 100 blankets were collected to local families.

Blankets are also collected for animals spending the holidays in shelters. Julie Warner’s Indio High School AVID students (Advancement Via Individual Determination) reach out to the community to donate the blankets. The school is also the site for a Toys for Tots drop off box.

Shadow Hills High School staff and students reached deep into their pockets and collected more than $7,200 in coins for Toys for Tots. Students annually attend the Sun City Shadow Hills Veterans Club Holiday event and work with marines to hand out the toys.

Several school staffs take note of the students in their care who may need a little extra during the holiday season. These DSUSD team members college toys and family needs to anonymously and quietly gift to students. The Ronald Reagan Elementary School “Sprankle Sparkles” is a food drive named after retired teacher Sandy Sprankle. Sandy passed away from complications of COVID early in the pandemic. This was her favorite school project. Families are nominated by staff members or because a call has come in regarding the needs of a particular student. Staff and students participate in the giving and the gifts are delivered or picked up by the families.

DSUSD Helps Less Fortunate, Makes Memories

A student (cadet) from Shadow Hills High School knows that this bicycle and helmet is going to make someone very happy!

At Indio Middle School staff members “adopt” a student in need and fulfill their Christmas lists. A special celebration is held for the students providing an added level of holiday cheer. The school has been holding their “Angel Tree” event for five years and ten staff members participated this year spending approximately $50. Gifts are meant for the student but, somehow, families seem to also receive special notice from their “Secret Santas” with such items as grocery store gift cards. Families are contacted to receive permission to give the gifts to the students. Priscilla Luna, school counselor, commented, “We enjoy doing this annual event and always love seeing their eyes light up and the smiles on their faces opening up their gifts.” Student Luis shared, “It was super fun and I loved my presents. I thank everyone that did this for us.”

Benjamin Franklin Elementary School has a “Giving Tree. Staff and students donate unwrapped presents to give to school families who have indicated a need. As an anonymous staff member said, “We give because this is a time to help those in need. Those of us with jobs and the means to help, feel it in our hearts to give back to those in need.” Should gifts remain, they are donated to CV Foster Kids. The school Giving Tree has been a tradition since the school opened in 2005. Over 35% of the school staff participate in the program, purchasing gifts for the kids at up to $25. As with other schools, grocery store gift cards also seem to find their way to the families.

DSUSD Helps Less Fortunate, Makes Memories

Was that before or after he stopped by Benjamin Franklin Elementary School?

Community organizations also work with our schools to be certain that children have a special and memorable holiday. The Indio District Attorney’s Office and the Birdie Shots Golf Group partner with Thomas Jefferson Middle School to make the holidays special. This year they put together 32 gift bundles for 32 students and their siblings.

The Indio Police Department has a holiday tradition called Shop with a Cop. This year they are going to be joining students from the middle schools in the city for a $250 each Walmart shopping spree. Indio High School Assistant Principal Marcy Herrera accompanied high school students on this shopping spree a few years ago. She noted, “The students wanted to spend that $250 not on themselves but for their siblings and their families. This is such a heartwarming program. Watching the IPD officers pushing carts alongside the students sends such a great message not only to those shopping but to the other shoppers.”

Every DSUSD staff member knows and will tell you that our work is all about the students. It’s about the kids! The holiday season was another opportunity to celebrate the awesome 27,000 students who are Desert Sands Unified School District.





Image Sources

  • Delivery: DSUSD
  • Student cadet: DSUSD
  • Benjamin-Franklin: DSUSD
  • Students and staff at Amistad High School are ready to share the blankets they collected.: DSUSD