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Clean, safe and warm

LJISD holds third annual Winter Coat Drive

Students in need at La Joya ISD received some welcome warmth just in time for the winter season.

Last Saturday Dec. 5, the La Joya Independent School District held their third annual Winter Coat Drive. Set up in a drive-thru style outside the district’s Public Information Center, the event aimed to provide families clean, safe coats, scarves, gloves and hats.

Superintendent Dr. Gisela Saenz (right) and Board Secretary Dr. Alda Benavides (left) fold new coats during the district’s annual Winter Coat Drive. Photo courtesy of La Joya ISD.

Superintendent Dr. Gisela Saenz wanted to thank the community for coming together to help make the coat drive possible. Considering the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has increased the struggles some families are facing, the coat drive came just in time.

“This year more than ever before, we have a lot of families in need,” Saenz said. “We have families who have probably always been able to afford coats for their kids in this season, but because of COVID-19 and how harsh it has been on some families losing their jobs, it’s more important than ever that our community come together and provide coats for their kids.”

Donations of new or gently used coats were accepted. After items were donated, district leaders sprayed them with disinfectants to ensure they were clean and ready for distribution.

“All moms and dads probably can appreciate that their child might have had a coat last year, but they’ve grown and this year might not have a coat,” Saenz said. “Coats are one thing that parents always need more of. This year is very hard.”

The LJISD Winter Coat Drive is one way the district can show that they care and work together to provide everything they can for their kids.

“It’s a contactless donation,” Saenz said, noting when donors drop off coats at one table, they are cleaned and then placed in sanitized bins. “We are sanitizing after every drop off to make sure it is safe for the staff that is here and the community.”

According to Blanca Cantu, the LJISD Public Relations and Communications Coordinator, district social workers select students in need and give the list to administration for distribution.

“We’ll use a bigger facility this time around, and [social workers] will spread out the coats,” Cantu said. “Whatever they need for their students, they’ll grab and deliver to them. All distributions are for La Joya ISD kids.”

Cantu said the district averages about 400 coats and winter clothing every year. Some coats are donated by community members and some are purchased new from monetary donations to the district.

Dr. Alda Benavides, the board secretary for LJISD, has seen this event both as a superintendent and board member. Benavides said it’s always great to see a project be successful, particularly when the intent is to help children.

“This is the ideal,” Benavides said. “Seeing the response and the benefit for all the children means it was a great idea.”

Benavides added that many members of the community will benefit from the Winter Coat Drive.

“Many of our parents may not have jobs,” Benavides said. “This is a year we really needed to do this. We thank our community for their generosity – it’s always been important, but it’s more important this year.”


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