Kent-Meridian High School staff ‘adopt’ families for Christmas

Kent-Meridian High School staff are collecting items for needy students and their families for the holidays.

Kent-Meridian High School staff collected items for needy families of students in the school this holiday season.

Kent-Meridian High School staff collected items for needy families of students in the school this holiday season.

Kent-Meridian High School staff are collecting items for needy students and their families for the holidays.

The school calls it “adopting” families because they try to work with each family chosen. The families make a list of what they need the most and then the staff members work to make it happen.

“This is the second year we have done this event,” said Debbie Theisen, campus manager at Kent-Meridian.”Counselors are working with several students dealing with poverty, family illness, homelessness, and other barriers to feeling any joy during the holiday season. Last year,  I began getting calls from the public asking if we had a family they could ‘adopt’ for the season.  Once we connected the two scenarios, it became a determined effort by many to collect and distribute gifts and food to a handful of our high school’s families.”

The program is completely invisible to the receiving student. The only staff at Kent-Meridian informed of which families are in the program is the counselors and the Theisen.

The school representatives work directly with the parents asking for their permission to collect holiday gifts for their family.

“Some folks turn us down saying they are sure there are others in more dire need,” Theisen said.

Once a family has accepted, the parents to send are asked to send the school the family’s wants and needs.

“Sometimes we get the letters to Santa their children have already written,” Theisen said. “When we see those letters, and we see the gifts come in matching their wishes, well, that is when we know we are doing something really special.”

Not all of the families are adopted by groups outside of Kent Meridian. Most are adopted by a club or department at the high school.

Although the students don’t know who they are collecting for, they know it involves Kent-Meridian students.

“Last year, one our the performing arts classes adopted a family and really went to town on the gifts, purchasing and wrapping for four people,” Theisen recalled. “The family was so grateful and the Kent-Meridian student in that family has since graduated and is working and preparing for college next semester.”

This year, one of the five Kent-Meridian adopted families has seven children and two parents. This large family including two students at Kent-Meridian, was adopted by the Victory Get Fit Club, a Women’s fitness camp that meets on the Kent Meridian fields each morning.

The club rallied their Renton, Kent and Federal Way members, also known as  “FitChicks.” Alfred Ra’oof  their Kent fitness trainer, brought the collection to Kent-Meridian last Friday, which included piles of gifts, food, movie tickets and grocery cards.

“It was enough to warm the hearts of the biggest Grinch,” Theisen said.

Kent-Meridian hopes to increase the number of adopted families each year.

Anyone interested in making a monetary donation toward the Kent-Meridian Trust Fund/Holiday Giving can contact Debbie Theisen at

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