A San Fernando Elementary school teacher noticed her students needed a lot more than just stocking stuffers this holiday season, so when she put out a plea on the internet for people to donate, she had no idea the donations would come in twofold.
Jessie is the elf on the shelf in teacher Stephanie Levinson's T-K and kindergarten classes at San Fernando Elementary school.
Jessie is who the students think is bringing them daily donations of supplies, when in fact, it’s complete strangers who saw their teacher’s request for donations on the neighborhood app, Nextdoor.
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"Usually next-door it’s just your neighborhood but this went all over, hit Beverly Hills, it hit Northridge and people kept messaging me throughout the day," Levinson said.
Levinson likes to give her students stocking stuffers every Christmas, but when the pandemic hit, she realized they needed more than toys.
"When we were on Zoom the whole year, we noticed the kids were cold. They didn’t have blankets. They were shivering. They didn’t have materials at home," she said.
She created an Amazon wishlist and posted it on the Nextdoor app.
"I just asked for blankets this year and within five minutes, blankets were covered," she said. "So I added the sweatshirts. I requested 24 and 50 were bought in 10 minutes."
Levinson says about 90% of the items in her classroom are donations, including the play dough, the oil pastel sets, the kid size rockers, and the beanies many of the kids are wearing.
The donations have been so generous and overwhelming, they’ve expanded the program to the entire school.
"We are trying now to make sure every student gets a backpack completely filled with supplies," Levinson said.
The pandemic has hit this community especially hard, which is why basics like toothbrushes and umbrellas are on the wish list, but Levinson says the children have what can’t be bought, a high level of compassion.
"They always do think about each other and they always want to help each other and care about each other," she said. "I’ve never seen a class as compassionate as this one."