Red Oak area businesses partnered with Red Oak Independent School District’s Community and Family Services to bring extra joy to dozens of district students currently in foster care and the families providing that care. The first Holiday Festival held Dec. 17 gave ROISD foster parents and students a night of games, gifts, food, and fun.
“The support has been overwhelming for our first event. We had dozens of businesses, organizations and individuals provide funds, toys, gifts, games, in-kind food and more!” stated Donna Knight, ROISD Community & Family Services Coordinator. “We were able to provide each district foster student with a tablet engraved with their name, a backpack and a sweatshirt, plus we had extra blankets, beanies and gloves for the winter.”
Red Oak Area Chamber helped raise funds
The Red Oak Area Chamber of Commerce coordinated the business fundraising with two matching companies – Access Self Storage and Freedom Heating and Air – providing the funds for the tablets. Four thousand dollars was collected over the past two months. The ROISD Police Department engraved them for free.
“After speaking with district staff, the tablets can be a huge benefit for students now as they complete homework, plus they are very portable for the students to take to college,” said Clint Woodward, President of the Red Oak Area Chamber. “We really wanted to support students directly, and with Donna starting this program this year it was a perfect match.
“Every year the Red Oak Area Chamber of Commerce strives to connect the community and our local business,” Woodward said. “This year, we wanted to make a larger contribution to our community, and after working with Donna Knight, we determined that our best course of action for our members was to partner with Red Oak ISD, and get the foster kids in our community a meaningful and lasting gift. Because so many of the foster families are in a fluid situation, we wanted to provide a gift that they could take with them, one they could be proud of.
Foster children received a tablet
“So, on behalf of the Red Oak Area Chamber, our business members, and several families in our community, we were able to provide 80 foster kids with a brand-new tablet for Christmas. At the event, being able to witness the gift-giving and see the looks on the kids’ faces when they opened up the tablets was so inspiring. We could not have given these gifts without help from several wonderful businesses, as well as a handful of individual families. We are so blessed in this community and could not be more thankful for the opportunity to participate in this great event.”
Several student groups, district employees and volunteers were on hand to help facilitate the night’s activities including games and a secret shopping area. Parents selected a gift for each student. Gifts were then wrapped on-site by members of The Oaks Church. Red Oak High School Student Council, FFA and HOSA students helped younger children make elf snacks, reindeer food, ornaments and write letters to Santa. Theatre and art students painted faces, while a balloon artist made amazing animals and space lasers. Chick-fil-A provided meals for all guests, while Whataburger hosted cookie decorating and games, and members of the Red Oak and Glenn Heights Fire Departments greeted families.