A happy holiday story

Taylor Herring is a new City Connects Coordinator at Boston’s Ellis Mendell School, but she’s already into the full swing of the holiday season.

For Thanksgiving she worked with the United Way to secure food baskets for families in need. And the family council at her school raised funds to buy Stop and Shop gift cards that also helped families put food on their Thanksgiving tables. 

“We’re a small school. We have about 270 kids. But we were able to help around 70 families,” Herring explains. “Our principal noted that because of Covid there has been an increase in the number of families who needed resources.”

Now that Christmas is coming, Herring is in the midst of managing a toy drive.

“We created an Amazon wish list that we publicized, and we also had awesome donors who gave a lump sum of money, so we were able to fulfill the wish list and get Target gift cards that families can use to buy toys or necessities. They can also use the gift cards for other siblings in the household.”

Some of the toys on the list: themed Lego sets, MagnaTiles, blocks, Beyblades (a new kind of spinning top) and gel pens, which, Herring says, are exceedingly popular. And, of course, there were coloring books to go along with those pens.

Herring has been working with her colleagues to get those toys wrapped and distributed to families. 

“We have about 50 or so kids and families on this toy drive list,” Herring says. “And it’s been really fun. Each kid has gotten at least two or three toys.”

In addition to being fun, Herring’s work is an example of the systematic delivery of evidence-based integrated student support. Yes, this involves toys and wrapping paper and holiday spirit, but more importantly it’s the work of a community pooling its resources to meet the needs that coordinators in all City Connects schools find as they review students’ needs and strengths – even during a pandemic.

So we want to wish a very happy holiday season to Herring and all our coordinators and program managers, and to all our schools and families. 

See you all in the new year!

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