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Woodside Parents Donate Thousands in Gifts to Local Families

At least $7,600 in gifts is being donated to low-income local families to help give them a Christmas they otherwise couldn't afford.

 

The Woodside High School Performing Arts Center looked like the inside of Santa's workshop Friday afternoon as roughly 50 parents from the school's Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) gathered to wrap gifts for low-income families.

Nearly 80 low-income Woodside High School families will be getting a merry Christmas that otherwise would not have been possible this year, thanks to the PTSA's Seasons of Sharing program.

The PTSA sets aside funds each year for Seasons of Sharing in order to be able to purchase holiday gifts for low-income families within the school. 

Said Debra Adler, PTSA president, school teachers and guidance counselors help the PTSA identify the families within the school that they think have the greatest need for this assistance each year.

"Each year, it's growing," said Adler, explaining how the number of families identified as needing help has nearly doubled in the past few years from around 40 to nearly 80. "The need is getting greater and greater."

PTSA volunteers then personally call each of the families - this year, it was 76 - and asks them for gift ideas for each member in their family.

PTSA parents then sign up to go shopping and purchase gifts for these families. As the PTSA funds the program, the parents can then turn in their receipts along with the gifts and get reimbursed - but, says Seasons of Sharing committee chair Anne Kopf-Sill, many parents opt to not request reimbursement.

"Many don't turn in their receipts and instead treat it as a donation," Kopf-Sill said.

Then, another set of volunteers sign up to play Santa and deliver the presents to the local families.

Adler said, on average, each of the 76 families are receiving anywhere from $100-150 in gifts.

Kopf-Sill says the program also relies on donations from outside the PTSA as well. They welcome donations of generic gifts like fruit baskets, gift cards, blankets, hats and scarves, gift-wrapping supplies and more, to help fill in the gaps and give families additional gifts so that everyone in the family gets something they'll enjoy.

Anyone who would like to make a monetary, gift or supply donation to Seasons of Sharing can contact committee chair Anne Kopf-Sill at anneark59@sbcglobal.net.

 

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Jeni December 11, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Helping others in need at any time of year is a beautiful thing, and these parents must feel really good about doing a good deed. However, how does the PTSA identify students who are "in need"? Is it based on those who are on the free- and reduced- price lunch? Kids from a one-income family? One-parent family? Also, I'd be curious to know if all students react positively to receiving "charity." Don't get me wrong, this is an incredibly heart-warming benevolent act of which other schools should take note, and the parents are just so kind to do this. BUT, I'm sure some kids at Woodside are embarrassed about their parents' low-income situation and may not want what they perceive as a handout. Again, I'm not saying that this is not an absolutely incredible gesture that should be lauded, but do the students receive gifts publicly in front of their high-income peers? It's more than obvious that the parents who help out are from Woodside and they are helping out their children's peers who live in RC. Woodside is very polarizing, income-wise.
Kim Abbott December 12, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Jeni, When my 2 sons attended WHS, I also helped with the gift wrapping (as a single mom could not afford to help with the gift buying) & from what I recall the gifts were delivered to the families home by only a few people as the names of the families were not given to the group. As for you remark "It's more than obvious that the parents who help out are from Woodside and they are helping out their children's peers who live in RC." I would love to know where your thought process comes from. When I look at the folks in the photos I do not see signs over their heads saying I live in Woodside.
Jeni December 12, 2012 at 07:13 PM
What I meant was, students who attend Woodside High School live in both Woodside and RC. Clearly the recipients of generous gift-giving and charity do not live in Woodside, as Woodside is an affluent city. I didn't mean to imply that only Woodside resident parents would be helping out; obviously parents in RC help out, too. I just meant that when Woodside High School talks about donating gifts to those who are low-income at their school, obviously those students do not live in the city of Woodside. I guess I was just amused that everyone knows how polarizing the high school is. You have the privileged, educated, cultured, and involved students and their parents who come from financially-comfortable circumstances, and then at the same school there are students whose parents are of limited means. So when there's talk of donating presents (which is a beautiful gesture) to the students at the school, it's pretty clear that those students in need live in RC and not Woodside. That's all. Just an observation.
Carolyn Healy December 14, 2012 at 08:10 AM
Jeni, As one of the three co-chairs of Seasons of Sharing I feel equipped to respond to your posting. Recipients of Seasons of Sharing gifts primarily reside in Redwood City, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto but all have a student at Woodside High School. The volunteers however, are not limited to Woodside High School parents. Some are parents of alumni, and some belong to clubs that have heard about the program and want to support it. The majority of the volunteers (including myself) do not live in Woodside or Portola Valley. Many have struggled financially themselves and therefore have great empathy for these families. Great caution is taken to protect the privacy of the students and their families. Gifts are delivered to the recipients' residence, not publicly distributed. Shoppers do not know who they are buying for, but get specific requests so that the gift is individually selected for that recipient. Gifts are given to each member of the household, but it is up to the parent whether to disclose where the gifts came from or not. In addition, books, toiletries, fruit, and gift certificates for food are given to each family. It is our hope to make this a time of joy and not a season of stress. Carolyn

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