Holiday Drives Foster Lives of Purpose and Service

Every year around the holidays, MICDS students and families participate in donation drives to help those in need. Although the pandemic adjusted our typical format for conducting these drives, this year was no different in the goal of giving to those facing difficult times. The MICDS community banded together to contribute to the Helping Hands Toy Drive and Derek D. Martin Food Drive. Nothing can stop our Rams from living into our Mission of leading lives of purpose and service!

Helping Hands

Helping Hands is an annual MICDS school-wide holiday toy drive that benefits FamilyForward, an organization that delivers comprehensive therapeutic and educational services to support biological, foster, and adoptive families in the St. Louis community. The families served often must choose between buying food, paying bills, and giving holiday gifts to their children. Through Helping Hands, MICDS families donate new toys, games, and books for children ages newborn through young adult. With these donated gifts, FamilyForward transforms their offices into a “toy store wonderland” where a parent, foster parent, or social worker can “shop for an angel” and select that perfect holiday gift for their child. Each year, FamilyForward supplies gifts to more than 900 children, brightening their holidays and lifting up their families.

This year, the “Shop for an Angel” program was conducted virtually. Families could shop the online holiday wish lists set up by the organization that delivered gifts directly to FamilyForward. FamilyForward Events Manager Tina Nelson reported, “We had a great response from MICDS and were able to fulfill the wishes of every child we serve. While this year looked like no other, we are grateful for MICDS’ continued support.”

Many MICDS donors also participated in their Teen Angel program which pivoted to a gift card program to enable teens to purchase their own clothing. “Eighty-three teens in our foster care program received $100 in gift cards to clothing stores – all donated,” shared Tina.

The Captain Derek D. Martin Food Drive

This year marked the 7th annual Derek. D Martin Food Drive where Upper Schoolers typically donate cereal, mac ‘n’ cheese, and canned goods to the St. Louis Fire Department Rescue Squad. Captain Martin, father of MICDS alums Jordan Martin ’06 and Kayla Martin ’17, was a firefighter for the St. Louis Fire Department, stationed in Engine House #1. He and his fellow firefighters ran a food collection every year before the winter holidays to feed families facing food insecurity around their engine house. After Capt. Martin died in the line of duty in 2002, his friends and coworkers renamed the food drive in his honor and grew the drive from feeding 50 families to over 700 families. His daughter Kayla introduced the food drive to MICDS when she was in 9th grade, and it has remained a tradition since.

Typically Upper School students collect food within advisories and present it to the firefighters from Capt. Martin’s engine house during the last Upper School assembly before winter break. The firefighters and other volunteers then hand-deliver bags of food to the families in St. Louis City in the days leading up to Christmas.

The 2020 collection was conducted virtually due to COVID-19. The firefighters collected monetary donations instead, which were then used to purchase food for the families.

Kayla reported that they collected about $8,000 in total including MICDS and outside donations. Several alumni and teachers from MICDS donated. “Our hearts are unbelievably full and we are so thankful that we were able to raise enough money to afford the food, the trucks for deliveries, the bags, shirts, and lunches for the volunteers over a two-day period,” shared Kayla.

Watch the video below to glimpse the amount of generous donations collected!

Thank you to all who helped support these efforts to help those facing insecurity in St. Louis over the holidays!