Weilenmann School steps up to help Rose Park Elementary families
December 21, 2017
About 30 low-income families in Salt Lake City were planning on receiving gifts to give to their sons and daughters for the holidays. Some asked for a pair of pants, others asked for a winter coat. But, when a donor backed out of Rose Park Elementary School's gift-giving program, school administrators were at a loss at what to do. Then, multiple organizations stepped up to fill the needs, and one of them was the Weilenmann School of Discovery.
Rose Park Elementary is located in Salt Lake City, but parents from Weilenmann heard about the school's needs from a Weilenmann student's mother who works at the Salt Lake school. The Rose Park teacher worked with the school's principal, Nicole O'Brien, and Weilenmann's executive director, Cindy Phillips, to get a list of gifts Rose Park administrators had already compiled to the Weilenmann parents.
After receiving the OK from the school's board of directors, Phillips and her assistant Shelley Turner met to send the Christmas lists to the families.
"We pushed send on that survey at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night," Phillips said. "Before Sunday at noon, every kid had been spoken for and we were already getting hundreds and hundreds of dollars on their donation site."
After all of the slots were filled, parents called and asked what they could do, so approximately $600 in gift cards were donated to Rose Park Elementary for administrators to buy more items for the families or save for future needs at the school. Parents also donated about $2,000 on Rose Park's webpage through the Salt Lake City Education Foundation.
O'Brien said that she was shocked by how willing parents were to step up and meet the needs of people they had never met before.
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"I really believe it was a miracle," she said. "I'm still reeling from the whole thing."
Turner said that Weilenmann usually participates in one or two donations each year, but had never before done a large-scale donation. She and Phillips were also surprised at how quickly the parents jumped on the opportunity to give, and that they were thankful to have the opportunity.
"It was the most heart-warming thing I've ever seen, how quickly they gathered resources and made sure that these kids were taken care of," Phillips said.
Because Weilenmann provided all of the gifts for the 31 students, O'Brien said that she was able to call in more families asking for donations that Rose Park Elementary originally was forced to turn away. A couple of local businesses in Salt Lake also donated money and gifts that will be used. She said that the donations take a large amount of stress off of families who are struggling during the holidays because of their circumstances.
"I don't think people will ever understand how much this means," O'Brien said.
In future years, Phillips said that she hopes to make giving to Rose Park Elementary a tradition at Weilenmann, because the Weilenmann community is eager to help wherever it has the ability to do so.
"Our community understands that before you can teach a kid, you have to make sure they are OK," Turner said. "That they are fed, they are clothed, that they have the basic needs, or you can't really expect to educate them if they are battling every day."