During the holiday season, the Downey High School faculty warmly helps members of the community struggling through difficult times.This Thanksgiving, Downey High School Assistant Principal John Baker, in partnership with the Aggressive Community Training and Services Foundation, donated baskets filled with Thanksgiving food to five families in need. This project began five years ago with the help of Shirley Baldwin, the project coordinator of A.C.T.S. and parent of a former Downey student. While A.C.T.S. would provide the food for the families, Baker would find families to donate it to. "I would identify the families through the counselors and teachers by putting out an email to the staff," said Baker. "I would then interview the students to see if they were eligible." To be eligible, families had to be of low-income with more than three children or currently homeless. For the Christmas season, the teachers at Downey High School have also strived to make the Christmas Day of several families one to enjoy and always remember. In the past five years, family and consumer science teacher Myra Skidmore has not only donated items herself, but also encouraged the rest of the faculty to donate as much possible. So far, her efforts have been very successful. "We get lots of food, money, clothing, and toy donations from the teachers," said Skidmore. "We have collected as much as $2,000 and divided it among the adopted families." After collecting the items, Baker and Skidmore even deliver the items themselves to the families'. Baker also helps English teachers Tina Carlson and Josette Bean find a struggling family to help during the Christmas season. Carlson and Bean decided to personally sponsor a family instead of giving each other gifts. "Because we are best friends, we used to spend exorbitant amounts of money on each other," said Bean. "Now, we ask the family for a 'wish list' and go Christmas shopping for them." Whether at small or large levels, members of the school's faculty go far beyond just helping students in the classroom; they reach out to help their families and the Downey community.
********** Published: December 4, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 32