Despite the cold weather, volunteers gathered Saturday, Oct. 9 to warmly greet San Juan Island School District staff with gifts.
“The gifts from the community always make us so happy and add excitement to our busiest month of the year!” exclaimed kindergarten teacher Jamie Rice.
Rami Amaro has been organizing the event for five years now, along with the help of volunteers Cherie Joyce and Tandi Mauldin along with high school volunteers Ethan Amaro, Cody Balcomb-Bartok, Larissa Mauldin, Blake Riley, Cooper Shaw, and Levi Wolf.
All San Juan School District staff are able to receive gift bags, while teachers received both gift bags and snack bags. Every gift bag had a T-shirt with a different saying on it, along with an assortment of other items.
Forty of the bags had golden tickets taped to the bottom. Community member Ray Jackson enthusiastically handed out the gift bags as he urged staff members to take a peek at the bottom of their bag to see if they received a golden ticket.
If they did, then they got to roll the dice to see what prize they would win. Prizes included gift cards to spend at Roche Harbor, a seaplane ride, and more.
“A little girl was here with her parent who won a golden ticket,” Rami Amaro said. “She said she hoped they would win the seaplane ride and they ended up rolling the right number to win it! It was so cool,” she laughed.
Around 200 gift bags, 100 snack bags, and 40 prize packages were gathered for this year’s event. This was not an easy task, as COVID-related struggles had made it difficult to make donations.
“This year was harder than expected. We actually had to ‘pound the pavement’ to get donations,” Amaro said. “When you put together [so many bags], it gets expensive. The only way we do it is with community support.”
Volunteer Ethan Amaro added, “There were a few instances where we didn’t have enough supplies, but thanks to the generosity of the local businesses, we were able to make sure every teacher got everything.”
Despite the struggles, they pulled through successfully and seeing the reactions of the teachers during the delivery day made it all worth it.
“It was so nice to be able to see all of them again and I loved knowing that I was able to make them happy,” said Ethan Amaro.
Rami Amaro hopes that next year they can get private school parents involved and other island parents involved so that we can expand to include all schools on all islands.