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Spring ISD Family Literacy Care Baskets Bring Books, and More, Home for the Holidays

HOUSTON - Dec. 18, 2020 - With Spring ISD’s annual Winter Wonderland celebration on hold this year due to COVID-19, the district’s Office of Innovation and Equity began looking for another way to share the gift of reading with area students. Joining forces with the Spring ISD Education Foundation, they launched a very special 2020 initiative – Family Literacy Care Baskets – to continue supporting students’ reading habits despite the pandemic.

“We knew we couldn’t hold our Winter Wonderland literacy event this year, but we knew that we wanted to do something to remind our students about the magic of reading this holiday season,” said Chief of Innovation and Equity Dr. Lupita Hinojosa. “So much planning and innovation went into making this idea a reality, and it’s wonderful seeing the results of all that hard work in the smiles on our students’ faces.”

Over the days leading up to Winter Break, the Family Literacy Care Basket project provided holiday baskets to more than 500 Spring ISD families representing more than 1,000 children. Each basket was specially designed for the selected family, containing several level-appropriate books for the children to read and enjoy, along with mugs, cocoa and other additions such as warm socks, blankets and other personalized touches.

“We identified students at each of our elementary schools, and we are providing them with baskets full of books and other materials that the family can enjoy as a family unit during the winter break,” said Executive Director of Family Engagement Tranita Carroll. “We’re doing it to encourage our families and our students to read during the break and also to engage and spend quality time with each other.”

The large coordinated effort involved Spring ISD staff members, community partners, outside donors and volunteers, with about half of the baskets donated by local business partners. As with the annual Winter Wonderland literacy event, the district partnered closely with the Spring ISD Education Foundation, which donated funds for the books and whose board members helped prepare baskets.

“We are so excited to be a part of this event, the family literacy baskets, and once again the foundation is proud to sponsor the book purchase,” said Education Foundation Executive Director Sandra Scott, who along with several foundation board members was at the Spring ISD Community Engagement Center earlier this week helping distribute baskets. In all, the foundation pledged $8,000 to purchase books in support of the initiative.

“We are very excited to promote literacy in the district,” said Scott. “We know reading is fundamental. It’s a cliché, but it is so true. It opens so many doors to our kids, and we want to continue to foster the district’s effort to provide books and reading materials to the students.”

The event also brought out representatives from Harris County Public Health, who handed out packets containing masks for both parents and students, information on staying safe over the holidays, activity booklets, and resources to assist families struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that everyone’s going through a tough situation all around, and some people are struggling a little more than others,” said Kara Ihedigbo, a school health consultant with Harris County Public Health who also serves on the district’s School Health Advisory Council. “That’s why we’re here. We’re just wanting to provide information to the community about how to keep themselves safe during this time and basically just connect them with resources that they might need.”

Also helping to spread the holiday cheer and distribute baskets were student volunteers from Spring ISD high schools, including members of the Westfield and Dekaney High School cheerleading teams, along with team mascots, who helped manage the drive-thru basket distribution and greet the families and younger students as they arrived to pick up their baskets.

“It’s been really nice,” said Westfield High School senior Lea Gould during a lull in the pick-up lane. “It’s so nice to see the kids happy to get their baskets, and it’s also really nice to reach out and help your community.”