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By Elizabeth Real                             Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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December 16, 2015                 
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Photo of children's gifts
Photo of some of the gifts that were given in the Ravenswood City School District to some of the homeless and foster children attending its schools.


The holidays are a time to make donations, to be thankful, and to get and give gifts. It's also a time for surprises. For some students of the Ravenswood City School District, Christmas arrived early this year.

It came on Friday, December 11. On this day, hundreds of students lined up outside the Ravenswood City School District's main office over a period of several hours. Many were eager to find out why they were lined up outside the building and what they would be doing once they were taken inside. What they didn’t know was that Santa Claus, snacks, and free gifts were waiting for them.

Once they entered the building, the children soon had their very own footballs, board games, toys and fleece blankets.

The gifts were given by Peace Builders, a non-profit organization based in San Mateo County, which partnered with the Ravenswood Education Foundation to donate toys for 1,500 homeless and foster care children in the Ravenswood City School District.

Rebecca Payne, who teaches at the Belle Haven Elementary School in the district, where she has taught for the past three years, said that the children were very grateful for their gifts. Payne said that she talked with the students about being grateful as she stood with them outside of the building.

She praised the children for their positive attitudes and added that when all the footballs were taken, the remaining students were more than grateful to receive fleece blankets, which they felt would be perfect to use during their winter break.

The school district's toy giveaway was part of a larger effort by Peace Builders to provide 50,000 new toys for needy Bay Area students. According to the Ravenswood City School District, the 1,500 foster care and homeless children in the district represent one third of its total student population.

Elizabeth Real, the author of this article, can be reached by email at epatoday@epatoday.org