Santa Sacks

Helping students stay in school doesn't take a break during the holidays. In fact one organization uses this time of year to continue its mission. This will be the ninth year of Communities In Schools' Santa Sacks project. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports.

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Communities In Schools or CIS, is a non-profit working in more then 90 Houston area schools to keep at risk children in school. Each year CIS volunteers fill medium size gift bags with gifts and basic needs for kids who may get very little for Christmas.

"For some kids this is the only thing they get."

Jessica Reyes is a Development Coordinator for CIS.

"It's very important to let them know that someone cares about them."

The number of kids who get a Santa Sack depends in very large part on donations to the program. Some people donate money and CIS volunteers then fill bags with items, mostly from dollar stores. Other individuals, families or groups pick-up the bags and fill them themselves. CIS has a list of suggested items for elementary, middle school and high school bags.

Because of schools close for the holidays the gifts have to be handed out in the first week of December. Last year 1,700 deserving students received Santa Sacks. This year, says Jessica Reyes, things are a little slow.

"We're probably close to 500 right now, and our deadline is December 1st. We're hoping that it will pick-up in the next couple of weeks especially since everyone's out there doing their Christmas shopping."

Santa Sacks isn't an isolated holiday program for CIS, it is one part of its overall effort to let students know that someone cares about them and wants them to stay in school. To find out more about CIS or to help with Santa Sacks, you'll find a link at k-u-h-f-dot-org.

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