For the second year, COVID-19 is changing the face of holiday giving to families in need within the Kyrene School District.
And yet, thanks to the creativity and safety protocol practices begun last year by the Kyrene Foundation, up to 1,000 children and their families will enjoy brighter holidays this year.
In years past, the Foundation, partnering with the Kyrene School District, hosted an extravagant in-person Winter Wonderland celebration.
Last year’s COVID-19 shutdown required a rethinking of the event that in years prior had been held in the gaily-decorated executive boardroom at the district office.
In those days, impossibly only two years ago, invited parents of families in need personally selected gifts for their children from piles of new toys, clothing and more. District employees feted the parents with refreshments and live music as appointed elves gift wrapped the presents.
This year, as was the case in 2020, toys and other tangible gift donations are not being accepted.
Instead, according to Kyrene Foundation President Shirley Coomer, the online monetary fundraising event and gift card drive has a goal of $45,000 that will be used to provide gifts and food to 1,000 children and their families.
She said last year’s pandemic Winter Wonderland garnered great community and local business support allowing 927 children and their families to celebrate the Holidays that might have otherwise been bleak.
Yet, those donating this year need to be aware of an earlier-than-usual deadline for giving.
Six-year Foundation Board member Rick Richardson – co-chair of this year’s event along with former board members Jeff Peters and Greg Stanton – acknowledged that the Dec. 1 deadline for monetary donations and gift cards is much earlier.
He voiced trepidation that it could affect fundraising for the event as only $10,000 in cash donations, not counting any gift cards, were on the books as of last week.
“December 1st is definitely early and I feel may hinder us reaching our goal we typically would not end the drive until December 8th,” Richardson said. “But we had some time conflicts with the district and it is necessary that they are at the event.”
In contrast, last year’s Winter Wonderland donation drive continued through Dec. 10.
Monetary donations can be made through KyreneFoundation.org website.
Gift cards for Target and Walmart in denominations of $25, $50 and $100 can be dropped off at two local businesses: Keller Williams Realty, Sonoran Living located at 15905 S. 46th St. at Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee, and R Squared Graphic and Web Design, 8400 S. Kyrene Road, suite 124, Tempe.
Another fundraiser to help Kyrene families in need is this Friday’s Second Annual Tukee Trot 5K and 1-mile Kid’s Quail Run held at Desert Vista High School beginning at 8:30 a.m.. Proceeds from the USATF-sanctioned run benefit the Kyrene Foundation and Kyrene Family Resource Center.
As it was organized last year, needy families in the Kyrene School District will drive through to pick up their gift cards and a food box from Midwest Food Bank at an undisclosed location and date.
Kyrene School District has 19 elementary schools and six middle schools, and according to Erin Schroeder, Kyrene Family Resource Center program manager, every school has children living in poverty, who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness.
“We currently have at least 150 students who do not have stable housing,” she said.
To find out more about the work of the Kyrene Foundation or to donate money to this year’s Winter Wonderland, see KyreneFoundation.org.
Make an online donation today or drop off a Walmart or Target gift card in denominations of $25, $50 and $100 now through Dec. 1, 2021.
Keller Williams Realty,
15905 S. 46th Street, #160; Phoenix, AZ 85048
Now through December 1st, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. M – F
R Squared Graphic and Web Design
8400 S. Kyrene Rd. Suite 124; Tempe, AZ 85284
Now through December 1st, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. M – F
The Kyrene Schools Community Foundation (Tax ID# 86-0607130) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving and providing resources to children and families in the Kyrene community.