In the weeks leading up to Christmas, employees of Dallas ISD’s Operations Division—bus drivers, cafeteria and maintenance workers and custodians—have been conducting a donation drive to collect items for homeless students.
Items ranging from face wash, hand sanitizer, hair products, and cosmetics bags to coloring books, journals, socks, gloves, scarves, and even earbuds and cable protectors have been donated at seven service centers and Operations facilities.
“It’s incredibly generous of our population in Operation Services who really make the least amount of money in the district, yet are providing donations to help those who are in need, especially during the holidays. It just goes to show how big their hearts are,” said Jaime Sandoval, executive director of Student Transportation Services.
All of Operations — more than 1,000 employees in Transportation Services –as well as Food and Child Nutrition Services, were involved in the effort, Sandoval said. The drive was underway from Nov. 15 to Dec. 10.
“This was a great opportunity for us to help those who are often forgotten,” said Deputy Chief of Operations Deno Harris. “We are a big organization, with an even bigger heart.”
Sandoval, who formerly led the district’s Homeless Education Program, says the need is something that never goes away.
“We know that there are more than 3,000 students classified as homeless in Dallas ISD, and there’s always an opportunity to help this population. Individuals in Student Transportation have done this in years past – it’s not something new to them. They’ve always been very generous with our students.”
But this year’s effort was even larger, he said. “This was the first time it was organized by the entire Operation Services. In the past we’ve had one service center that would provide donations for the Homeless Ed department. This time, we have four service centers in Student Transportation Services,” in addition to Fleet Services, Turney Leonard Training Center and Maria Luna Food Services. “This is the first time it’s happened where we’re bringing it all together under one umbrella.”
The donations were distributed to the students before Christmas.