Students help make Christmas merry and bright

WARREN, Mich. - Barbara Cloyd, a mother of four, has stage 2 breast cancer, and had her first chemotherapy treatment last week at Troy Beaumont. 

She is facing five months of chemo, surgery, and radiation, but today she was smiling. 

The Cloyds are one of 37 families in the Warren Consolidated School District adopted by De La Salle Collegiate students for the annual Adopt-a-Family Christmas service project, providing groceries and gifts to needy families. 

Jo Marie Ragona, De La Salle’s Christian Service Director, connected with the non-profit Good Shepherd Coalition of Macomb County to identify families needing help with groceries and gifts for the Christmas holiday. 

For the past few weeks, each advisory, led by the juniors, collected financial donations from students. From there, teams worked together to do grocery and gift shopping, based on lists provided by parents of the intended families. The Student Council provided turkeys for each family. Students wrapped gifts, and delivered them, although some families chose to pick up items at De La Salle. 

Census data shows that more than 26 percent of the students in the district live in poverty, nearly 10 percent higher than the poverty level for children in Macomb County. 

“You wouldn’t think that in Macomb County that there’s that kind of need,” Ragona said. “Some of these people live in motels. A lot of them are single parent families. One is a multi-generational family.”

The Cloyds’ situation is different than most, however. Barbara works as an accountant, and is trying to work as much as possible, but she tires easily. Her husband, Ron, has seasonal work. Her oldest child, Michael, works at a warehouse, and is hoping to become an electrician. Her other three children attend elementary, middle, and high schools in the Warren Consolidated System. 

Barbara Cloyd reached out for help about five years ago, when her own mother was going through breast cancer, and Barbara was struggling to work and raise her family. She didn’t expect to need help again, but cancer has a way of changing plans in a big hurry. 

“I am so thankful for this donation,” she said. “It means a lot to me and my family.” 

For junior Lorance Morrison, the activity has been a positive experience. 

“I’ve never done anything like this,” Morrison said. “Everyone in the class donated, and I had a lot of fun shopping for a family in need. It’s great to help someone who really needs the help.” 

Junior Avery Petri, who shopped for his advisory’s gifts with his own family, is already planning his senior year International Baccalaureate project with 95.5 FM’s Mojo in the Morning, a popular radio show. 

“This experience was awesome,” Petri said. “The gifts bring joy to people and need, and their smiles and laughter is contagious.”

A faculty and staff group also adopted a family.

“It’s what we do for others is what God has done for us,” Ragona said. “We have been given a lot, and it’s good to share with others who don’t have it.”

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