• Arizona
  • Thursday , Feb 1 , 2018

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San Tan Valley Area Information

2 minutes reading time (384 words)

Encanterra Volunteers Find Creative Ways to Support San Tan Valley Students Amidst a Pandemic

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While 2020 brought with it many obstacles and challenges, it didn't stop a group of volunteers in a San Tan Valley neighborhood from supporting students in the J.O. Combs Unified School District. In December, local residents of Encanterra came together for the third year to organize the annual Kids Kringle for Combs Traditional Academy, an event that collects donations for students to select gifts for two caring adults in their life.

"Kids Kringle was started 20 years ago when I lived in an area of Albuquerque, where the elementary school had 14% of its students homeless. When I moved to Encanterra in 2017, I realized Combs Traditional Academy had students in need, as well as some homeless students too," said Carol Kline, Kids Kringle coordinator. "Even without being a 501(c)3, I had no problems getting donations from so many wonderful people at Encanterra, and even had a waiting list for volunteers! Each year only gets better and better."

Volunteers purchase most gifts at the Dollar Tree using donations, picking out 300+ gifts for men, 300+ gifts for women, and also generic items so that students have options for the gift they'd like to give. Children's items are also purchased to allow students to select something for themselves as well. It's not uncommon for students to ask to pick out a gift for a sibling instead of themself, and when that happens, volunteers ensure an extra selection of gifts is available for those children to pick from.

Prior to the Kids Kringle event, volunteers sort all purchased gifts per grade. In a typical year, these items are then set up in the school gym and students are assigned times to visit and shop with the help of volunteers. However this year due to COVID restrictions, volunteers were able to use a donated room at Encanterra where they selected gifts for the kids, wrapped and tagged them, and then placed in a CTA drawstring bag. They were then delivered to the school where students could pick them up in the front office.

While volunteers missed seeing the smiling faces of students this year, their creativity and generosity in safely supporting Combs families will not be forgotten. Kline says they look forward to organizing another year of Kids Kringle in 2021.

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