Donations to the Community Christmas Card afforded more than 40 coats for students at Conway’s Theodore Jones Elementary this year, according to the school’s counselor.
Susie Harvison, counselor to 403 Kindergarten through fourth-graders, said she and other administrators purchased about 50 coats with the fund when money was doled out to area schools at the beginning of the year.
She said Tuesday there are six coats left.
The Community Christmas Card is a fundraising effort led by the Log Cabin Democrat that benefits Faulkner County students. Community members donate $1 or more to have their name or a name of their choosing included in the specially printed Community Christmas Card section of the Log Cabin’s Christmas Day edition.
Donors continue to set records each year with donation totals.
Last year’s final count was about $26,200.
Every penny of each dollar donated is forwarded to area school counselors who administer the funds in ways they see fit.
Harvison said since last December she has used the school’s portion of the fund to buy clothes, pay rent and utilities, and to buy food.
"We pay rent, and we do utilities. I’ve probably spent $5,000 this year on rent and utilities for families who have had an accident of some kind or a hurt child," she said. "We recently had four of our students’ house burn."
Harvison said with the help of other donations, the school provided furnishings, food, clothing and school supplies to the family.
Harvison and other administrators send 140 backpacks with food home with students every Friday.
Again, she said she depends on other donations and programs like Rice Depot, a hunger relief organization, but "Rice Depot can’t fill all of those."
Harvison remembered a recent encounter with a hungry student who was given food purchased by the Community Christmas Card fund.
"A little boy who was very angry and having discipline problems was kicking his backpack down the hallway. I asked him what was wrong and he wouldn’t talk. After five or six minutes he told me he was hungry, but he had left breakfast not long ago," Harvison said. "He told me he was hungry again because he hadn’t eaten anything since lunch yesterday. His mom didn’t give him any supper, and he hadn’t had food for about 19 hours."
Harvison said the boy’s mother worked three jobs, "but couldn’t make ends meet with three kids."
Harvison said she was able to give the boy a mid-day snack, and "all of a sudden his eyes brightened and he said, ‘Wow, I feel better.’"
"That’s Christmas Card money right there," she said.
Names and donations for the Community Christmas Card will be taken at the Log Cabin Democrat’s new office at 1111 Main St., Suite 102 in Federal Plaza in Conway.
Business hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
To donate by mail, send names and donations to Community Christmas Card, P.O. Box 969, Conway, AR 72033.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)