donations

Kenna Wallis, left, and Quinn Harrigfeld, both fifth graders at Ucon Elementary School pose for a photo beside gifts and coins collected for low-income families on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. “I really like knowing I helped get a lot of food and presents for Christmas,” said Wallis.

UCON — More than a dozen families in Ucon will have food on the table and gifts under the tree on Christmas, thanks to donations from their classmates and students at another local school.

Ucon Elementary School and Rimrock Elementary School worked together to gather food and gifts for 15 low-income families of students at the Ucon school. This was the 20th year of the partnership, where families at Rimrock gave gifts to students and their families in the last week of school before the holiday break.

“It’s extremely meaningful because otherwise these families probably can’t do much during Christmastime. So those other families step up and provide a complete Christmas for them,” Ucon Principal Daniel Page said.

The income difference between the families at the two schools has helped to keep the donations going for so long. Rimrock has the lowest rate of low-income students of any elementary school in Bonneville Joint School District 93, at 12 percent. Meanwhile, 45 percent of Ucon students come from low-income families.

Families eligible for the program were identified by school counselors at Ucon, who found students that might be in need and reached out to their families. All the members of the family filled out a list of needs and wants, which were anonymized before being provided to the families at Rimrock.

The parents from Rimrock filled up most of a trailer with presents for the families and dropped them off at Ucon on Tuesday afternoon. Camille Morton, who is helping to organize the donations this year, said that most of the gifts were from the families’ list of needs but that others donated toys, video games and other items. One family even donated a laptop to a teenager who had requested one to help with their homework.

“Right after we got the lists, someone called me and said they wanted to donate a computer. It was really touching to know how far our families were willing to go,” Morton said.

Ucon also held its own donation drives to help families in need over the last two weeks, collecting coins for the districtwide Coins for Christmas program and food donations for the 15 families in need. Jessica Gomez, the teacher who advises the student council and helped organize the drives, said the goal for this year had been to collect $800 and 1,300 items of food. They ended up exceeding both goals, with a total of $1,400 and nearly 2,000 food items being donated.

“I feel so much warmth in my heart, knowing that people will have a great time on Christmas with these clothes and shoes,” said Quinn Harrigfeld, a fifth-grader at Ucon and vice president of the Student Council.

The food, gifts and clothes will be picked up by the families at Ucon over the course of the day on Friday.

Brennen is the main education reporter for the Post Register. Contact him with news tips at 208-542-6711.