Every year, CIS of Puyallup organizes a Holiday Help campaign to collect gifts, supplies, and financial support for the families we serve. One child we helped this year was a student at Woodland Elementary who was socially reserved, struggling academically, and experiencing homelessness. 

CIS of Puyallup Community Partnership Coordinator Kelly Cane, who organizes donations from community organizations, was inspired by the student’s holiday wish list, which included clothing reflective of the student’s unique style and a Barnes and Noble gift card. Kelly connected with our Woodland Elementary Site Coordinator, Mary Burkholder, to fulfill the wish list. Mary collaborated with Woodland’s counselor to facilitate a way for Kelly to help the student in a special way.

The counselor sat down with the student and together they created an online wish list, without the student knowing Kelly was planning to fulfill it. Later that day, the student’s teacher approached the counselor and asked, “What did you talk about with the student?” The teacher continued to describe how the student’s disposition had dramatically improved when she returned to class. The teacher explained how the student voluntarily and confidently stood in front of the class and correctly completed a question on the board, an unprecedented act for this student.

This story exhibits the overwhelmingly positive effect of providing a struggling child with focused one-on-one time. Our site coordinator’s simple act of sitting down with a student and listening to her needs gave her enough confidence to actively participate in class. This is a small step toward our organization’s larger mission of surrounding students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.