Gift Giving at Soon-To-Be-Closed J. Will Jones Elementary

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Thanks to some generous people in Houston and from as far away as New York State, J. Will Jones Elementary will celebrate its annual "Gift of Giving" celebration this Thursday, distributing "donated presents and hurricane relief supplies to students and their families," HISD announced today.

St. Nicholas will show up and everyone gets a gift.  "This year is especially important since so many families have faced hardships in our community," says Principal Brian Flores.  "Hurricane Ike, the economic downturn and resulting job losses have all contributed to a substantial need for many of our families."

The school is 99 percent low income. Besides gifts from New York state, corporate donors such as Gilbreath's Services, Taqueria Mi Jalisco, Mi Jalisco Distributors and Aqua Gutters along with University of Houston sorority Sigma Alpha Iota, Beta Pi Chapter and fraternity Phi Mu Alpha, Omicron Upsilon Chapter all chipped in. Jared Lofton of Lofton Realty donated school supplies.

It's not all good news, though.

According to the HISD release:

"Unfortunately, and despite such a significant increase in need this year, we have had a difficult time getting organizations to donate," says Keisha Berry, Student Counselor at J. Will Jones.  "So many families are struggling and it is apparent the hurricane and economic crisis have really placed a challenge on our usual sources."

And despite all this goodwill, the celebration will be bittersweet.

"It will be both a time of joy and sadness as this will be our last year to provide the 'Gift of Giving' celebration," says Charlene Rubit, Literacy Coach and Assistant Principal.  "It's especially important for the entire faculty that this be the best celebration ever."

In October,  the HISD school board voted to close J. Will Jones based on low enrollment and consolidate it into Blackshear Elementary School.  

Established in 1907, J. Will Jones Elementary is 101 years old.  The school serves students Pre-K through 5th grade and is rated "Recognized" by the Texas Education Agency.

-- Margaret Downing

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