For almost two decades, through donations, volunteer work and help from the community, the school has helped to make sure that their families have everything they need to feel joyful over the holiday break.
This year, they collected toys and clothes for 287 Johnson City kids, providing items for Mountain View students and their siblings; who range from infants to high school. The presents are wrapped and families pick them up on the final days of winter break, oftentimes carrying at least a garbage bag full of presents, and sometimes a bike, to their cars. Mountain View was also able to provide 200 food boxes to their families, which will help sustain them through the winter break.
“This is just something to help these families know that we as a school care about you and we just want to take this off your mind,” said Christy Gambrell, who serves as Mountain Views’ family/school coordinator and has overseen the program for the last 16 years. “The families are so stressed out right now with their daily lives, this is just one thing that we can take off their mind and that we are going to help their kids for Christmas.”
The work starts in September when wish lists are collected from all Mountain View students. Then the counselors and staff decide which students and families would benefit most from the program. Once that number is narrowed down, Gambrell reaches out to community members and businesses to start sponsoring students and families. She also reaches out to other community organizations to make sure that the students aren’t on any other lists.
Mountain View principal Dr. Melissa Stukes noted the months of hard work from Gambrell, Mountain View staff and community members to make sure everything is taken care of for the Mountain View families.
“It is really nice to see everyone, people that work here and people from the community, come together to help others,” Dr. Stukes said. “To me, personally, that is a big part of Christmas cheer; to try and help other people. To think about the joy on our students’ faces on Christmas morning is just heartwarming.”
Mountain View has 403 students enrolled and has one of the highest economically disadvantaged rates in the area with 76.2 percent. With the hardship some of the families go through, Gambrell said that Mountain View staff members are glad they are able to ease the load for the families, even if it’s just for one day.
“You just wear so many hats, because there are so many needs within this building,” Gambrell said. “And these kids just want to be loved and that is what we try to do here at Mountain View. To let them know they are cared for and we want these parents to know we care for them too. We just want to help.”