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Gardendale High School Spreads Christmas Cheer in Northern Jefferson County

Education Extra

      

Gardendale High School (GHS) is currently collecting donations to assist in sponsoring over 200 children through their 2022 Christmas Visions program. Christmas Visions is their way to give needy children his or her wish list for Christmas. Collections will take place now through mid-December. Christmas Visions benefits children who attend 20 Jefferson County Schools.

Christmas Visions
Fundraising for Christmas Visions continues through December 15.

The GHS student body strongly believes in the opportunity to give back and looks forward to the campaign each year. The majority of the money comes from small donations from 1100+ students. They believe in the opportunity to give hope and to give back. Gardendale’s Student Council (GSC) helps facilitate the campaign under Alex Lewis, the GSC Adviser. Lewis stated, “Christmas Visions is a charity initiative started 31 years ago by the Student Council organization. We provide Christmas for underprivileged students within the Jefferson County School District. The money provides Student Council members the opportunity to shop for individuals’ Christmas wants, but more importantly, their needs. The wish lists are sent to us directly from Jefferson County Counselors and we currently serve approximately 20 schools within the district.” GHS students realize they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Christmas Visions develops, in them, a desire to help others. They want these recipients to feel special at Christmas and have the things that they need. Stories from the recipients lead them to truly want to give. High school recipients say that the shoes provided to them were the first shoes that they have owned that did not have holes in them. Some students request items like name brand food products because that is a special treat for them. The stories are endless.

Christmas Visions Amount Raised as of December 1
Pictured here is Gardendale High School’s Christmas Assembly. As of December 1, the students raised $30,162.14 in 2022. Photos courtesy: Jere Bensko

In an effort to meet their substantial goal, the GSC also reaches out to local businesses and members of the community to request their support. It takes a true community effort to obtain the goal. The program is designed to provide recipients with items that are specific to their situation. Each participating school has a counselor choose their students with the greatest needs. A wish list is gathered for each child, citing their needs and wants, along with the needs and wants of any siblings who are not school-aged. Once all of the money is collected, a GSC member selects two to three children to shop for, purchasing ALL of their needs first, then their wants. Depending on the amount raised, $150 – $200 is budgeted per child. Many kids list things such as toothbrushes, shampoo, blankets, jackets and food as needs.  Wants often include basketballs, footballs, coloring books and bicycles. Each recipient has a huge bag full of gifts that are delivered to their schools where their parents pick them up, just in time for Christmas… making spirits bright.

Collecting money and donating to “Toys for Tots” was Gardendale High School’s first Christmas project. In December of 1990, GHS decided to sponsor families without the assistance of “Toys for Tots.” That year, the Student Government Association (now known as the Gardendale Student Council), decided to give their efforts a name, and Christmas Visions was born. Over 30 years later, the tradition of generosity continues. In 1990, $8000 was raised to sponsor just over 50 children. By 2005, the total had increased to over $35,000. The 2022 goal is to collect $47,000, the largest VISION to date! For more information or to make a donation to Christmas Visions, please contact Alex Lewis at arlewis@jefcoed.com. †

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