Event geared toward kids without homes and at risk of school failure.
The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office hosted the 28th-annual Community Transitional School Holiday Party intended to bring joy to deserving children on Friday morning, Jan. 6, at the Multnomah County Inverness Jail.
Children attending the event, who are homeless or otherwise at risk of school failure, enjoyed gifts, a performance from BJ the Clown, pizza and photos with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and R2-D2, the famous Star Wars droid. The room where the party was held was decked out with lights, tinsel, Christmas trees and all other types of holiday cheer.
"I feel grateful to be a part of this long traditional event for the sheriff's office," said Multnomah County Sheriff Michael Reese, who was attending the celebration for the first time. "Events like this showcase the tradition of working with the community — and it's a joy for everyone involved, especially the kids."
Community Transitional School was founded in 1990, and serves an average daily enrollment of 60 to 70 students. The students range in age from 4 to 14, and come from families living in Portland and East Multnomah County. They live in homeless and domestic violence shelters, motels, on the floor of a friend's home and outside in cars.
Many who attend the school come from homes where the resources for gifts simply do not exist, so presents are provided for each of the students at the school. They all receive toys, as well as essential items like clothing and shoes.
The sheriff's office partners with the Wilson High School Leadership Group, Multnomah County Command Officers Association, Multnomah County Corrections Deputy Association, Multnomah County Deputy Sheriff's Association, Local 88, Multnomah County Corrections Health, Multnomah County Judges, and Aramark in providing the amazing experience for children in the community who are in need.
Wilson's Leadership Group is especially active, connecting with the children throughout the day.
"It's amazing seeing the positive attitudes they have — all of them are overwhelmingly happy," said Wesley Crawford, a senior and president of the Leadership Group. "It's nice to be able to put things into perspective and use our situations to help others."
The Leadership Group has been helping with the event since 1994, and have donated over $80,000 in the 22 years they have participated. This was a record year, as the students were able to present a check to the school for $3,500, as well as sweatshirts and school supplies.
"Being able to talk with the kids and get to know them is the best part," said Quinn Van Horne, a senior and vice president of the group. "The kids are so excited to talk about what they like to do."