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Arizona Virtual Academy and Insight Academy of Arizona ended 2016 with a holiday Adopt-a-Family fundraiser, delivering gifts to deserving families in need.

Departments within the schools raised money to buy gifts for individual families, and the gifts were delivered between Dec. 17-20.

Christina (Chris) Castillejo has been working at AZVA and ISAZ since September 2012 and was one of the coordinators of this giving project. The McKinney-Vento homeless education liaison and Title I clerk, she works primarily with the schools’ homeless families. Some of the families she works with were selected to receive gifts through the schools’ Adopt-a-Family fundraiser.

“A few staff members were wondering if we were going to do a holiday fundraiser for our students and families in need, so I decided to initiate the Adopt-a-Family event,” Chris said. “I met with Banji Judge, our community and marketing administrator for blended learning, and Elizabeth Hall, our family engagement coordinator, to start brainstorming ideas for a fundraising event for our families.”

They determined a timeline for the short period of time they had before the end of the semester that let every department get involved. The families were asked if they would like to participate and what they would like for the holidays, and each department was asked to donate monetary funds or purchase items from their lists.

Overall, the holiday fundraiser was very successful and they met the initial goal of collecting at least  $100 per department. The schools collected a total of $975 in monetary donations from staff, in addition to more than $200 worth of gifts for the families.

“It was great to see that staff got to know our families a little better,” Chris said. “They learned about their trials and what may be affecting schooling that we don’t normally see face-to-face.”

Chris and the rest of the planning team were given intimate details that were shared for the purposes of making the holidays better for these families in whatever way they could. Most departments were given a family that was directly served by their department, which made it authentically important for them.

“We can only hope that students learned the importance of community assistance in times of need like we all did,” Chris said. “This is our first year completing such a monumental task, and we hope to continue it for future years.”

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