Hope for the Holidays is a tradition of National Honor Society (NHS) that has continually united students through friendly competition with the goal of helping others for years. The school year is never complete without the push from English teachers to students to donate and receive the holiday cut outs of snowmen, gingerbread men, trees and stars. This annual tradition, however, almost did not make a comeback due to a change in the school district’s internal policy on “Allowable Collection of Funds for Donation.”
“The type of organization that NHS is, we are not able to donate directly to an individual, which is essentially what Hope for the Holidays does,” NHS sponsor Cerissa Johnson said. “We found that there were some administration policies that we had to make sure we were in compliance with.”
The change in policy occurred in the higher levels of district administration affecting not only this campus, but all Keller ISD schools. It states that:
- “Funds may be collected and donated only to an entity qualified under federal tax law to receive donations for charitable purposes. A copy of the entity’s approved 501(c)(3) form must be obtained prior to collection of funds.”
- “Funds may not be collected and donated to an individual or to any organization that does not have a 501(c)(3) approved status.”
While this change prevents and protects individuals and organizations from the abuse of power that could transpire from donating directly to a sole entity, it created additional stress and problems for organizations who sought only to help others.
“We were worried that it wasn’t going to happen this year, because in order for us to keep our traditions for the Hope for the Holidays program we had to find a non profit organization that we could donate to, and essentially they would be the ones who would distribute to the individuals.” Johnson said.
With help from both the counseling department and the school accountant, Sharon Danielson, Johnson was able to find a non-profit organization called Stepping Stones that was willing to help NHS continue Hope for the Holidays. As an operation that works directly with students in Keller ISD, it is locally based and already familiar with the needs of low profit families within the district. Along with Hope for the Holidays, NHS will also be doing their required semester donations through Stepping Stones as well.
“Hope for the Holidays is a way for us to give back to [our] peers and their families,” NHS President Kaylee Billstone said. “We rarely take into account that peers among us that we see everyday may be struggling with things financially that we will never specifically know about. [Stepping Stones has] been super cooperative and helpful and I suspect that will continue for sure.”