Like the train conductor in the movie Polar Express says, “Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see”— like belief in the human spirit.
CSC Wilmington employees heard the train bell ringing, letting us know the Polar Express would be stopping at our headquarters, fueled by compassion and belief that there’s so much good in the world.
A request from Karen Elmagrisi at The Bayard School to Padua Academy to adopt a classroom for their Polar Express holiday celebration — to provide winter pajamas for 25 kids — quickly morphed into adopting the whole school of over 700 children.
The Facebook request from Elmagrisi said most students at the elementary school did not own any pajamas and that many sleep in the same clothes they wear to school – “multiple days in a row.”
Padua teacher Christine Campbell first flagged the request as it came into the school over Facebook. She shared the request — along with her home address in Wilmington as a drop off location — with the Padua community as well as her own friends on Facebook. With hopes of receiving dozens of pajamas, Campbell received hundreds, and that’s when she and Padua turned to CSC to help. “I put a few messages out there, and the response was overwhelming. I simply couldn’t catalog and keep all of these pajamas in my small house,” she said.
CSC saw the pajama posts on social media and offered the use of its large headquarters to manage the collection. CSC’s effort was spearheaded by our own Jenn Kenton, senior vice president of Global Sales. “Catrina Jefferson, CSC Small Business Market leader, saw the social media post and we knew right away that we wanted to help,” says Kenton.
Kenton kicked off CSC’s pajama drive with an initial contribution of 25 pairs. Her generosity and enthusiasm spread through the halls of CSC in a flash.
“Our culture at CSC is teamwork,” said Kenton. So we knew that our colleagues would pitch right in to contribute and be as excited as we were to take this to a whole other level of giving. In fact, we got donations in from CSC employees all across the U.S. Annually, we like to adopt families for the holidays, so pivoting to adopt the whole school was a natural fit.”
A simple request to help local children in need is all it took for the employees at CSC to jump in and help. It’s just who we are, and it fits right in with how CSC continues its mission to give back to the communities where we live and work, making sure our neighbors are better off tomorrow than they are today.
Amongst many CSC volunteers from all departments who came together to inventory pajamas by size, participate in the bake sale and submit donation requests, Catrina was instrumental in coordinating the collection in time for Bayard’s Polar Express Day when each child will receive their new pair of pajamas.
“In three weeks, the CSC team collected more than 3,230 brand new articles of clothing for local students,” says Catrina Jefferson. “When Jenn sent out a note that said ‘let’s do this!’ we were unsure if we’d actually reach our goal of 700. The results show how motivated the teams were to fulfill this holiday wish. Adopting a school has been an incredible team effort that captures the spirit of the season — one that will be brighter for all involved.”
The idea of pajamas for every child was inspired, and it built into a frenzy to give more. Sales rep Melissa Barlow contacted the popular sock brand, Bombas®, and they donated socks for every kid. The effort continued to snowball when the CSC sales team held a bake sale on December 10, raising over $1,200 to buy each child a winter hat and a pair of gloves, too.
In total, CSC collected:
- 930+ pairs of pajamas
- 800+ pairs of gloves
- 750+ beanie hats
- 750+ socks
- clothing for the nurse’s office and children’s books
Pajama drive grows to support seven schools
Donations continued to roll in through December 19th. In all, nearly 2,000 pj’s were donated to the Polar Express drive. So today, students at seven schools in Wilmington and New Castle received visits from volunteers at Padua and CSC dropping off carload after carload of brand new pjs for kids to wear on their last day of school before Christmas. For many, this will be their only set of pajamas they own.
Pajamas for kids from preschool through 5th grade were delivered to these schools on December 20th:
- Bancroft – 600 kids
- Bayard – 800 kids
- Carrie Downie Elementary – 40 kids
- Leisure kindergarten – 25 kids
- Shortlidge/Warner – not yet counted
- Stubbs – 300 kids
- Urban Promise school – 100 kids
“We originally hoped to support kids in one class at Bayard. And now we have supported kids at seven schools. I feel like this came through the Holy Spirit,” said Christine Campbell. “It really is a Christmas miracle.”