Jan. 8, 2021 - n the spirit of the holidays, students from across the Comal Independent School District gave back to their communities through various toy, clothing and food drives leading up to the district’s winter break. Here are just a few of the ways students spread holiday joy this year.
5th Annual Angel Tree Project
Seven Comal ISD campuses participated in the 5th Annual Angel Tree Project sponsored by the Bulverde/Spring Branch Angels. This year, the project helped 170 families and 470 children from birth to 18. An increase over last year’s count.
“We were concerned that we would not be able to help all of these families this year,” said the project’s chair Cindy Hurst, “but this community really joined together to adopt these children. It is truly amazing.”
The wrapped gifts were given to each family Dec. 17 and 18, in a safe, drive-by collection with a Santa Claus on hand.
This year’s Angel Tree campuses included Indian Springs Elementary, Johnson Ranch Elementary, Kinder Ranch Elementary, Specht Elementary, Timberwood Park Elementary, Pieper Ranch Middle and Smithson Valley High School.
Bill Brown Elementary Blanket Drive
In addition to the toys and clothing that were on their wish lists, the kids on the Bulverde/Spring Branch Angel Trees also received new blankets thanks to an annual blanket drive organized by the Student Council at Bill Brown Elementary. This year, students collected 615 blankets.
Established four years ago, the council consists of 21 classroom representatives from the third, fourth and fifth grades. This group organizes the service drives for the campus throughout the school year. Each drive lasts five days.
Besides the blanket drive, the group also organized a food drive in November which collected 3,296 pounds of food for Provisions, a non-profit food pantry in Bulverde.
Teen-to-Teen for SJRC
Abby Permenter, a junior at Smithson Valley High School, wanted to share some of her products from IPSY, a monthly makeup and beauty supply service, with teenage girls at SJRC Texas.
The 16-year-old asked a few friends to help her gather typical teenage-girl supplies like makeup, lip balm, lotion, hand sanitizer, bath gel, bath bombs, brushes, nail polish, makeup wipes, manicure kits and more. The items were placed in makeup bags and delivered to about 30 fellow teenage girls at SJRC Texas for Christmas.
Annual Cougar Christmas
This year’s Canyon High School Cougar Christmas benefited 75 elementary students with 26 student organizations participating to buy and wrap the very anticipated gifts. Students from Freiheit, Oak Creek, Goodwin Frazier and Clear Spring elementary schools received clothes, toys, bikes, video games and more during the annual Cougar Christmas which usually takes place in the Cougar gymnasium with a pizza party and then the unwrapping of gifts.
“I have been a part of Cougar Christmas since my freshman year,” says CHS Senior Emily Miller. “I enjoy seeing the smiles on every kid’s face when they open the presents. It warms my heart and gets me in the Christmas spirit.”
In addition to the smiles the gifts bring, Miller enjoys buying the gifts with her basketball team and the extra bond it gives them.
“This might be the Cougar tradition I will miss the most,” Miller says, “because I love Christmas and enjoy seeing everyone participate in giving gifts and making others smile.”
This year, Miller and the Cougar girls basketball team were able to give a student from Freiheit Elementary everything on her wish list including a bicycle, clothes such as jeans and a jacket and art supplies.
CLHS Hawks Adopt-A-Child
Similar to Cougar Christmas, Canyon Lake High School annually hosts elementary students from its feeder pattern who are adopted by students and teachers. Generally, these students are invited to CLHS for an afternoon of gift opening, great food and fun. This year, the in-person activities were cancelled, but the spirit of giving remained.
For almost a decade, third-period classes at CLHS have participated in the Hawks Adopt-A-Child project by adopting an elementary-aged child within the Canyon Lake feeder pattern and purchasing gifts on that child’s wish list. This year, 37 children were adopted from Mountain Valley, Rebecca Creek and Startzville elementary schools. The wrapped gifts were placed in giant festive bags, which were donated by the CLHS Ag department, and tagged for each child.
Seniors Alexis Ozuna and Kat Royer look forward to Adopt-A-Child every year.
“It’s my favorite part of the whole year,” says Royer. “It’s nice that we can take some of the burden off their parents and families. We were able to purchase everything on our child’s list this year from a sparkling Christmas dress and ankle boots to a gold heart necklace and toys.”
Ozuna enjoys seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces as they receive their gifts.
“I know how excited I am when I wake up on Christmas morning to gifts under my tree,” Ozuna says. “It’s nice to be able to do that for someone else. It feels great.”
SVHS NJROTC Toys for Tots
For the third year, Smithson Valley High School’s NJROTC organized a toy drive for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. The group collected seven large boxes of toys including four tricycles.
“The importance of this program is at the heart of the NJROTC program,” says Daniel Hansen, USN, Retired, SVHS naval science teacher, “to instill the values of citizenship and service to community. Our cadet leadership team did an excellent job motivating our cadets, students and faculty to help local families in need.”
Additionally, this fall, the NJROTC collected and donated more than $500 to the campus Thanksgiving turkey drive, more than $400 to the S.P.U.D. week campaign and 120 boxes of cereal to the Hope Center Food Pantry in Spring Branch.
Goodwin Frazier Elementary Food Drive
Wrapping up the holiday giving was Goodwin Frazier Elementary which organized a Communities In Schools Food Drive Dec. 1-13. Students donated nonperishable cans and boxes of food which were distributed to GFES families in need.
The collection total was enough to help 13 families with 193.5 pounds leftover and donated to the S.O.S. Food Bank in New Braunfels.
-The Student Council of Bill Brown Elementary hosted a blanket drive for the Bulverde/Spring Branch Angel Tree, and the group collected 615 blankets.
-Smithson Valley High School Junior Abby Permenter organized a beauty-products drive for fellow teenage girls at SJRC Texas.
-The Canyon High School junior varsity tennis team was just one of 26 student organizations that participated in the annual Cougar Christmas tradition by adopting an elementary student and purchasing gifts on his holiday wish list.
-Pictured from left are Canyon Lake High School Seniors Barry Woodling, Alexis Ozuna and Kat Royer. They have enjoyed participating in Hawks Adopt-A-Child which brings smiles to elementary students.
-The NJROTC from Smithson Valley High School organized a Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive in December. Pictured from left are Josh Harshbarger, Zach Rich, Emily Brady, Julie Schultz, Lauren Burleigh, U.S. Marine representative, Nick Fernandez and Nichole Naranjo.