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 La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools Embrace Families in Need

‘Twas the season for a handful of special individuals working in the La Mesa-Spring Valley (LMSV) Schools to spread extra-special holiday cheer to some of the district's most needy families. 

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Aubrey Gallegos-Asimos, a district educationally-related mental health provider, more than 700 students at 13 different school sites received a toy from the Toys for Tots program during the holiday season. 

Donations came from Toys for Tots and LMSV staff donated their time to organize and distribute toys to schools and families. This included David Martinosky, lead storekeeper at the district operations center, and the entire transportation services department, which provided a sleigh and used Spring Valley Academy as a “Santa’s Workshop” distribution hub. Well after work hours, Martinosky and delivery driver Paul Novak had their holiday spirit on full display, volunteering to drive to MCAS Miramar to pick up additional toy donations from the base.

At Rolando Elementary, third grade teacher Caren Sebok started a collection for Gently Hugged, an organization founded by two public health nurses who witnessed how more and more families are struggling to acquire the basic necessities of life in today's economy. Sebok said, “I saw a news story on TV about Gently Hugged, and the babies and families it helps, and it just really touched my heart.”

A new baby can put an added strain on already limited family resources and many babies lack appropriate items of clothing and blankets to stay warm and thrive during their crucial first year of life. At the same time, babies in many other communities are fortunate to have an excess of clothing during the course of their first year and many items are only worn once or twice or never used before they are outgrown. Gently Hugged’s goal is to provide a way to get these surplus items into the arms of mothers with babies in need. 

Donated gently used or new clothing in preemie to 12-month sizes, along with blankets and accessories (hats, socks, and bibs) are being collected through the holiday season and beyond.