Bazaar gives boost to Christmas giving
JANESVILLE Elysia Polhill knows she got the perfect present for her baby brother.
“Wanna know why?” the 8-year-old asked excitedly. “It’s a tool set.”
Elysia loves surprising her family with presents, she said. And because of Jackson Elementary School, she and other students will put wrapped presents under the tree for their families even if they don’t have money to buy gifts.
The school hosted its second annual holiday bazaar Saturday for Jackson families. Staff donated clothes, toys and other items and laid them out in the school gym. Families then came and chose items for free.
Jackson has the second-highest rate of low-income students in the district, with nearly three out of four students eligible for free or reduced lunch. The staff started the bazaar to help out the families at Christmas, said Cecilia Haladky, a first-grade teacher and co-organizer.
“It makes us feel good to be able to do this for them,” she said.
It started as a way for kids to get gifts for their families and parents to get gifts for their kids. It also has become a place where families can get things they need such as warm clothes and blankets, Haladky said.
That’s what Yolanda Cruz was there for. She carried a pile of towels, blankets and pillows and answered a reporter’s questions as her 9-year-old son, Hugo, translated from Spanish.
“(The bazaar) is good for people who don’t have much,” she said in Spanish.
This year’s bazaar had about twice as many donations as the first one, Haladky said. A steady stream of families filed through the gym and out to the hallway to have their presents wrapped.
“That’s the most fun, is to see them walking around with wrapped presents to give to somebody,” Haladky said.
Coran Cruzen’s daughter, Amanda, had been talking about the bazaar for weeks, Coran said.
“My 6-year-old was really, really excited about getting free presents,” she said.
The family moved to the district from Illinois in spring, Coran said.
In Illinois, they were on a list for a charity that brought Christmas gifts to families, but Coran didn’t get signed up for one here.
The event allowed her to get presents for the whole family.
Tina Pringle brought her three kids so they could get presents for mom, dad and each other. Three-year-old Samantha, dressed in a princess dress and a fuzzy pink coat, grinned as she showed off the book and dress she picked out and the giant puzzle pieces in her brother’s bag.
“They don’t have any money, and this way they can pick things out for each other,” Tina said.