Solana Highlands students help make the holidays brighter for Solana Vista families

By Karen Billing

Solana Highland Elementary School’s Care and Share program is helping make the holidays a little brighter for 28 families in need at its fellow district school Solana Vista. Every year Solana Beach School District’s Care and Share finds families that could use a little extra help and organizes a donation drive at other district schools.

“We like the program so much because it impacts families in our own district,” said Cindy Burns, this year’s coordinator at Solana Highlands. “Our families here are very generous. We’ve done the program for many years and it’s just become a tradition for our school.”

Each classroom adopts a family, both parents and the children, and collects wrapped gifts.

Fourth grader Ally Greenhalgh took the school’s challenge of caring very seriously this year. Ally decided that for her 10th birthday party on Dec. 3, she would forgo gifts for herself and instead ask party guests to bring a toy to donate to a child in need.

“I already had a lot and I know other people don’t have as nice a life as I do so I wanted to give something for them to enjoy,” Ally said.

She brought in two big bags of presents—lots of games, a bracelet maker and even a baby doll.

“It makes me feel good,” said Ally of her donation.

Ally sent a note to the Care and Share organizers detailing her intentions, neatly printed on lined paper.

“It was such a neat surprise, that Ally as a fourth grader could be so selfless and do something like that. It was very sweet,” Burns said. “It really made a difference and made sure all the wishes were met for the families.”

Burns and other volunteers played Santa on Thursday and Friday mornings last week, delivering present hauls to Solana Vista. Solana Vista families would be able to pick up the gifts on Dec. 21 afternoon.

“It’s been a good year,” said Burns. “Even with the economy being down this program has always stayed strong which is really nice.”

Burns was pleased with this year’s donations, especially knowing how much is asked of people during the holiday season. She says the high participation just goes to show that Solana Highlands understands the importance of helping other district families so close to home.