DALLAS - More than 600 students at McShan Elementary in Northeast Dallas got an early start to Christmas with a special holiday donation.
Friendship-West Baptist Church donated enough clothes, shoes and toys to ensure every student will get something for Christmas.
The donation is especially meaningful to the McShan Elementary community. School leaders say more than 98 percent of the students there come from families who live below the poverty line.
A majority of the kids are from immigrant families. For some, this is their first Christmas in America. School leaders are aiming to make it a warm welcome and a special holiday for all these kids.
Christmas may be weeks away, but Monday was just like Christmas morning for the nearly 680 students at McShan Elementary. Thanks to donations from Friendship-West Baptist Church, every child went home with a few things to enjoy as an early Christmas surprise.
“Some of them are in a day to day struggle, week struggle when they can hardly provide the essentials for the children,” said Miko Humphrey-Vasquez, the community liaison. “So to be able to have the extra from their school, it makes them feel important and belonged."
School leaders say the student population represents roughly 39 different languages. More than half of the students are recent immigrants from Burma, Nepal, Kenya and more. Some are spending their first holiday in the U.S.
“They are valued. They feel so important, and they understand that this is really what America's about,” said Principal Joseph Medaris. “It's about giving. It's about being able to provide for other people and just show them love consistently.”
They hope to make the true meaning of Christmas is one of the first things these students learn about America.
“So the fact that I received a gift even though my family doesn't celebrate, I feel included in the culture that's around me,” said Humphrey-Vasquez.
This is the second year Friendship-West Baptist has done the donation drive. They hope to make it an annual tradition for the kids at McShan.