Teachers pool money together for low-income students

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Inside Harmony School of Achievement, the library has transformed into Santa's Workshop.

"We call this 'Hope for the Holidays'," said Mary Bolden, a reading interventionist at the Bear Creek area school. "The kids don't know exactly what they're getting and they get to open it on Christmas Day."

Teachers and staff, decked out in holiday attire, are busy dancing to Christmas music and wrapping dozens of gifts for a few select families.

"I'm holding back tears, because it was literally an effort of the teachers. They are so connected to their students. They knew which ones needed help," said Assistant Principal Andrea Breaux.

The school with about 600 students is a title 1 school, meaning most come from low-income families and a majority qualify for free or reduced school lunch.

For the third year in a row, the staff have pooled their money together to make Christmas a little brighter for the families who need extra help.

"Some of them don't just have kids here, they have little ones at home too. So it's asking 'what does the 2-year-old brother want or the brand new baby, what do we need in the family?'" said Rita Gonzalez, a teacher at the school.

Of course, there will be toys under the tree, but many of the gifts are school uniforms and books for the students, supplies for mom and dad and gift cards to grocery stores and gas stations.

The mission inside this Santa's Workshop is to make an impact past Christmas morning and into the next school semester.

"They don't have to worry about clean uniforms every day, they don't have to worry about if there's groceries, if they're going to have a hot meal," said Breaux. "When students have what they need outside the classroom, they're able to focus on their education."

"We know the families and they're going through a lot of financial hardships, and so we just try to do what we can," said Bolden.

This year, the school identified four families with a total of 17 children, including a newborn.

"It just goes to show you the relationship that has been built here between the teachers and the students," said Breaux.

Follow Shelley Childers on Facebook and Twitter.
Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.