GREAT FALLS — It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but for many families, it’s also one of the toughest times of the year. Factor a pandemic into that equation, and things get even more complicated.
Roosevelt Elementary School in Great Falls was the site of overflowing traffic and holiday cheer on Monday morning, as the school held a drive-thru Christmas Village and gave out Christmas food baskets.
The drive-thru village is not the first event of its kind since the pandemic began. For teachers who have only been able to interact with their students through a computer screen over much of the past few weeks, it brought a welcome sight.
“We absolutely love, love, love the student and teacher interactions, “said Roosevelt second-grade teacher Charlene Ammons, smiling through her mask. “As teachers, that’s what we live for, and so we really miss that aspect and embrace every opportunity we get to have some interaction with them. We were able to do this at Halloween, and it was a fun way to hand out the supplies, and be able to say hi in person to our remote learners.”
Students and their families stopped at several holiday-themed stations to pick up notebooks, whiteboards, math games and packets that they’ll need for school post-Winter Break.
On the opposite side of the building, the district gave out holiday food baskets to 60 families in Great Falls. The baskets were made possible by a Secret Santa donation to Electric City Coffee.
“We really don’t know where the donation came from other than: a rather large donation was provided to Thad and Heidi down at Electric City Coffee Shop,” explained GFPS Assistant Elementary Superintendent Ruth Uecker. “They took the money to help purchase food that is in turn placed into these baskets to give to our families. There’s quite a Secret Santa movement happening in our community. Lots of generous people at this time of the year, and they asked that something be done for families in need, and what a great place this is to give it to the students in our schools, and particularly our remote students.”
The baskets came with turkeys or hams, rolls and trimmings of all kinds.
Families drove right up to the doors, where volunteers asked “turkey or ham?” before handing over the holiday cheer in the shape of a food basket. The district also enlisted the help of a group of volunteers to delivery baskets to people who couldn’t make it to Roosevelt to pick them up.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” said Chuck Jennings, one of the volunteers delivering food to families in Great Falls. “I have to applaud the school system for organizing this and for having the food available for families in need. There’s definitely a big need in our community and many communities around the country.”
Each box also came with a small white card. It read “From Secret Santa.” A small token that started when someone anonymously gave $1,500 to Electric City Coffee two weeks ago.
“Our community is quite giving, and when there is a need, they reach our schools and to our families and they come and they provide, and we’re just thankful we have such a providing community that we live in,” said Uecker. “Whoever this individual is or individuals, we thank them for what they’re doing on behalf of our families. We’re proud to be able to follow through with their wishes to help make someone’s Christmas that much better.”