Student gets head start on family dinners for others

A grinning Christina Poole walks back after receiving an award from Rocky Mountain Head Start during Grand Junction High School’s homecoming pep assembly Thursday. Christina was recognized by the organization for gathering food for Christmas dinners for the families of Head Start children.

At the beginning of Thursday’s Homecoming assembly at Grand Junction High School, after the drumline but before the mock sumo wrestling, Christina Poole, 15, stood in the center of the gymnasium.

It was a warm day and Christmas seemed very far away, but that’s why she was standing there. Her school was recognizing her for, as a sophomore, already exceeding her 30 hours of service learning required for graduation. And Rocky Mountain Service, Employment, Redevelopment (SER) Head Start was recognizing her for the turkeys and yams, the green beans and pumpkin pies.

For the past four Christmases, Christina, with the help of her family, has gathered food and assembled boxes containing all the fixings for a Christmas dinner. She has donated them to Head Start to give to their families in a multi-county area.

Last year, it was 150 boxes. This year, she estimates it will be closer to 500.

“She just has a really good heart,” said her father, Gavin Poole, explaining why she does it.

Her explanation is similarly simple: “During November and December, I saw a lot of people on the streets and I saw that they didn’t have a lot, so I thought giving back with food would be good.”

The first year, her parents subsidized her idea, which also included scarves, hats, gloves and presents for children.

The next year, she kicked in with allowance money she’d saved and, in the past two years, in addition to her own and her parents’ financial contributions, area businesses have sponsored her efforts, which she organizes under the name Paper Angels.

“I know this has been hard for her every year,” said Reona Beltra-Montoya, a coordinator for Head Start, “but she’s helping our families a lot.”


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