After handing out more than 100 free trees to kids and their families earlier this month, Nathan Voyer, assistant principal at Maxine Hong Kingston Elementary, sounded the call for an especially needy family who had next to nothing; the prospect of Christmas seemed bleak.
An outpouring of generosity followed, and members of the community “adopted” all four of the family’s children to make sure that didn’t happen. Tuesday, after cramming his truck to the brim, Voyer was able to deliver more than 50 gifts to the family with the help of his father-in-law, retired Pastor Jim Dunn.
Kaiser Permanente’s Pediatric Department donated many of the gifts and grocery gift cards. Don Nelson – son of Bob Nelson, who was a sixth-grade teacher at Maxine Hong-Kingston in the late 1940s and early ’50s and also was principal of Lafayette Elementary – and his wife, Ellie, were among those who adopted the family, as well as Liv Garret, a retired Lodi Unified music teacher; Doris Cody, a San Joaquin County Mental Health employee; Kimberly Hagerty, a Kingston parent; Donna Gum, librarian at Kingston; Valerie Islas, a nurse at Kaiser Permanente; Marce Rosado, a Kingston parent; and Julian Winbush, a Kingston student.
They also made sure the family had a tree, Christmas decorations, “clothes for each child from head to toe,” family presents, household items, gift cards for Food-4-Less, and a little extra cash, said Voyer, who called the response nothing less than awesome.