With the holiday season upon us, it seems that we all pause and reflect on the wonderful blessings for which we are thankful. At the central office level, our Choice Family ranks on top of our list of blessings. The strength of Choice is its exceptional people who provide comprehensive educational services to children, parents, and families at every school we have been blessed to manage.
Giving back has been a common theme and a top priority for Choice since we were founded in 1998. Our giving back initiatives were originally geared towards students and families, yet it later evolved to focus directly on Choice employees. This evolution to caring for one another created who we are today – the Choice Family!
The Apple Project
The apple has come to represent a traditional gift given to a teacher by a student. Choice’s commitment to caring for its employees as part of our family is our “apple” and represents our gift of gratitude and hope. When we created the Apple Project in 2009, the hope was to find a way to give back to our employee families who were in need during the holiday season. The program now does just that. It enables Choice and its employee family to support their peers through gifts and finances.
Here is a recap from our efforts in recent years.
APPLE PROJECT 2013
The Apple Project for 2013 was intentionally focused on helping staff members of our Choice family. Behind the scenes, while staff were making a difference for children and their school communities, Choice was busy granting holiday wishes to employee families that school leaders identified as needing a little extra encouragement and care. Choice granted the following wishes in December of 2013:
- Paid multiple student loan payments
- Paid for multiple credit card bills
- Provided a down payment for a car
- Paid back rent to help an employee avoid eviction
- Paid for gas bills for multiple employees
- Purchased a set of tires for an employee
- Purchased groceries and Christmas gifts for many, many families
- Paid for martial arts classes
- Fixed cars so employees could drive again
- Paid daycare expenses
- Made two mortgage payments
- Paid property taxes
- Purchased cell phones for teenage children
- Purchased countless coats, boots, mittens, and scarves to keep kids warm
- Provided beds for a family whose children were sleeping on the floor
- Purchased flights so an employee could attend a funeral
Choice also contributed to many school-based projects helping their school families with either cash or with requested goods (turkeys, toiletries, etc.)
APPLE PROJECT 2014
In 2014, EVERYONE paid it forward in a big way.
School Families Assisted
As part of the 2014 Apple Project, Choice staff and school families made significant donations to the wide-range of school-led giving initiatives. Additionally, Choice added additional gift card donations for each family being helped by our school staff. Staff attending the holiday parties brought donations for school families. Inspired by a spirit of collaboration and compassion, hundreds of families’ holiday seasons were made a little brighter. Here are some of the examples of how everyone expressed their compassion:
Battle Creek Montessori Academy
BCMA raised donations of food, clothing, toys, and gas cards for three families in need.
Benton Harbor Charter School Academy
The BHCSA school community adopted three families and provided them with necessities and gifts for a wonderful Christmas.
Bradford Academy adopted a family of their own during the 2014 holiday season. They were able to provide the family with school uniforms, play clothes, new fresh towels, gift cards, toys and six new backpacks full of school supplies with six winter coats, hats, and gloves. They also rerouted their buses to pick the students up at an alternative location during their time of need.
Creative Montessori Academy
Through November and December, Creative Montessori staff, PTO, and families participated in multiple community outreach activities. These included Ryan’s Friends Coat Drive as well as collecting canned goods, hats, mittens, scarves, and needed items for the Salvation Army and families at CMA. CMA also held a donation drive to support several families, one of which lost their home to fire.
Four Corners Montessori Academy
FCMA staff joined forces with their “Parent Guild” to collect donations for three families in their school community.
Macomb Montessori Academy and Second Home Child Development Center
MMA and SHCDC sponsored the collection of donations for one family that had children in both MMA and Second Home CDC. They collected donations of cold weather accessories such as hats and mittens, which were donated to MMA community members in need and the Genesis III shelter in Detroit.
Morey Montessori Public School Academy
Students made cards for a Mt. Pleasant boy in another school who was battling cancer. His family asked for cards to cheer him up. Staff donated items to one school family. They also collected items for local food pantries.
Dove Academy came together as a staff to provide a meaningful Christmas to a family in need. Through the generous donations of food, clothing, and toys from our staff and others, this family was able to have the type of Christmas that anyone would dream of.
Global Preparatory Academy
GPA adopted three homeless families. They purchased uniforms, school supplies, and toys for each family.
Muskegon Montessori Academy for Environmental Change
MMAEC staff, school parents, and community members donated clothing and gifts to two families and students in need of winter attire. They held a food drive for the Children’s Food Basket (food pantry), and were an official drop off site for the Salvation Army Angel Tree.
Three Oaks Public School Academy
TOPSA+ sponsored a donation collection of clothing, toys, diapers, and more for a very large family.
West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science
For the second year in a row, students at WMAES collected toys and other gifts to donate to fellow students at WMAES who were in need as part of their “Toys For Eagles” program, sponsored by their Student Council. They collected over 450 individual toys to help 19 total families, benefiting 75 children! A parent also baked treats for every family to enjoy as her way of “paying it forward” to WMAES who collected items for her family who lost their home in a fire about five years ago. As if that wasn’t enough, they also sponsored one of their own families with a desperately needed donation collection of food, clothing, and toys.
Staff Families Assisted
The Apple Project also touched lives of our Choice family when we:
- Paid December rent
- Paid off very past due rent to avoid eviction
- Provided a large gift card for groceries, gas, and clothing
- Paid off a gas utility bill
- Repaired a vehicle
- Paid off medical bills
- Helped rescue a home from foreclosure
- Provided a dishwasher for a home with many, many children
- Provided financial assistance to help prevent utility shut off.
- Paid off a very past due water bill
- Gave a gift card to Target to an employee’s daughter struggling with a crippling spinal issue
- Made multiple December student loan payments
- Donated $1,000 to an employee involved in a serious car accident needing a new car
- Helped with car repairs and the purchase of clothing
- Gave diapers and wipes to a new mom