Spread joy and hope through Inskip Angel Tree

Susan EspirituFountain City

The answer for that “hard to buy for person” on your Christmas list? The Angel Tree at Inskip Elementary School is the answer! After all, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and there are just 34 shopping days left until Christmas.

Don’t spend Friday shopping all day in those Black Friday crowds! Sponsor presents for one of the kids on Inskip Elementary School’s Angel Tree and stay home eating leftovers from Thanksgiving.

Principal Megan Blevins shows the need for replacement stage curtains at Inskip Elementary (file photo by Beth Kinnane)

Inskip is one of Knox County’s 33 Title 1 schools, which are defined as having a student body with at least 40% from low-income families. Many of Inskip’s students live at or below the poverty line. Six years ago, principal Dr. Megan Blevins, who was then the assistant principal, helped start the Angel Tree committee there.

“That first year, honestly, was a complete disaster,” Blevins said. “We now have it down to a fine science. It is quite the process, but I think we’ve perfected it.”

Blevins said out of the current 500 student enrollment, over 250 have requested a spot on the Angel Tree. The process is simple: parents submit a list of needs and wants. Shoppers/ donors spend $50-$75 per child.

“That way we’re able to get them a present or two as well as some necessities, like socks, underwear or gloves,” Blevins said. “Anyone who wants to sponsor a child (or 10) can come by the school and select them off the tree and do the shopping themselves, or they can come by or call to make a donation, and we will do the shopping for them.”

The deadline of November 29 is fast approaching. Blevins hopes to have all of the Angels adopted or donations in by then, so all the presents can be purchased, wrapped and returned to the school by Dec. 6 for distribution before winter break.

Members of the student council wrap the presents purchased by the committee. “It’s their way of giving back,” she said of her students.

Blevins is encouraged with participation by the local businesses in the area and says, “I think it would be great if some local businesses decided to sponsor some of these kids. We have several that have participated with us each year.”

While gearing up for the Angel Tree is at the forefront of finishing off the semester for Blevins and the school, she said Inskip has had several other big events on the calendar. With the help of the Friends of Inskip Elementary, the school is helping 200 student families with Thanksgiving dinner.

On Monday, the kindergarten and first grade students performed at Inskip Gives Back, featuring the Dream Eats Food Truck providing meals for the families.

And finally, the school hosts its Winter Festival on Monday, Dec. 18, with Santa and Elves including a $5 pancake dinner fundraiser.

With all these other events, pulling together the Angel Tree sponsors may seem a daunting task as Blevins says, “I freak out about it a bit every year, but we’re gonna pull it off. We always do.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring a student can call the school at 865-689-1450.

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