Every year, I look forward to seeing the joy in my preschoolers as the holidays approach. What astounds me every time is not their excitement for the festivities and presents – though that very much exists – but rather, it’s the children’s enthusiasm for the giving events we do. The pure generosity and compassion that shines through them is one of my favorite parts of my career.
As the Franchise Owner of a Primrose preschool, I’m lucky to witness more special and heartwarming moments than the average person. One event that never fails to produce these moments is our annual fundraiser for the Navajo Christmas Airlift that takes place in November.
This is the 32nd year of the airlift benefiting the Navajo Nation territory, which is the largest reservation in the country spanning from my state of Arizona into New Mexico and Utah. Many don’t realize the poor living conditions of the families in Navajo Nation. Every year, more than 30 pilots and many volunteers pack planes with much-needed clothing, blankets, toys, toiletries and nonperishable food for the pilots to drop off just in time for the holidays.
A few years ago, the grandfather of two of my Primrose students approached me about getting involved with the airlift. It is for such a great cause close to home and I knew our families and community would want to help. I also had been looking for another real, hands-on way for the children to exercise the generosity and character lessons they learn in school, so the airlift fundraiser was the perfect opportunity.
Every year, the children go through their gently used clothing, toys and more to pick out donations for the airlift. They learn about who their items will be helping, and because they give away personal items, the experience is very real to them. We even take the older children on field trips to the airport to drop off their donations. It’s amazing to see the children – all under the age of 6 – so engaged and excited about giving back.
The Navajo Christmas Airlift is just one of several giving events we do throughout the year that range from book donations and a canned food drive to a Spring Fling community event that raises money for local and national charities. Additionally, the children learn about and practice skills like empathy and compassion every day in our classrooms through books, puppet play, role playing and more.
Especially at this time of year, I reflect on how incredibly grateful I am to have found a career that enables me to touch so many lives. I imagine there are few careers that combine financial success with the opportunity to make a difference, especially in ways that are meaningful to me and my community. I get to help shape our next generation with an approach I believe in and give back to so many others – there’s truly nothing more I could ask for this Christmas.