Yesterday I got the chance to tell my class about a project that get incredibly excited about every year at this time – the Salvation Army Adopt-a-Family program! Two years ago, on the way to school, I was listening to (of course), Star 104.5,Star 104.5 the Christmas Station in Omaha. I was waiting patiently for my favorite song (obviously, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”) and happened to hear the morning hosts talking about the Adopt-a-Family program. As a child, my family always adopted a Christmas family through our church, but I had yet to adopt a family as an adult. As a teacher, I am always thinking of ways to make my students not only better learners, but better people, and I started to think that Adopt-a-Family might be just the way to accomplish this goal. I got to school, told my students about my idea, and then asked, “Who would like to adopt a family?”
Every single hand went up.
It should be known that not every student in my class at that time (or at any time for that matter) had a lot of money to spare. We have quite a range of socio-economic levels in our school. Yet every single child in my classroom thought that adopting a family was something that we needed to do to help make someone else’s Christmas a joyful one. I called the radio station, we waited and listened, and heard the host say how wonderful it was that a class would adopt a family of 3. Over the next week, we collected money. Students brought in their allowance, money from shoveling driveways, and donations from parents and family members. A young man from a family who themselves had been adopted through a similar program brought in a dollar (cue tears). Soon enough, we had reached our goal. That weekend, a small but determined group of young ladies meet me at WalMart and we shopped til we dropped! We lugged the gifts to school and spent an afternoon as a class wrapping, making bows, and decorating the gifts so they looked perfect for this special family. I brought in fleece and my reading class and cheerleading squad created a tie blanket for each of the family members. Then, on the final school day before winter break, our adopted family came into our classroom and accepted their gifts. The little boy’s smile stretched from one end of the classroom to the other.
The mother cried.
So did I.
My class last year “upped the anty” a bit and adopted a family of 6. We raised even more money, I had 5 shoppers who scoured Target, and our adopted family sent candy canes to the class in appreciation.
So yesterday morning, I stood next to our classroom Christmas tree and told my students about the tradition my homeroom started two years prior. I showed them the pictures. I talked about the importance of giving to others, even if all we have to give is a little. And then I asked who thought we should adopt a family.
Every. Single. Hand.