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School Safety officers give to kids during holiday season
Tucson Unified School Safety Officer Sam Martin loves helping out students who need help during the holiday season. He is just doing what he has been for the past 20 years of his life, ever since he has been in a position to give back. Martin has held onto this emotion since childhood. He was once a child who didn't have much, who benefitted from the influence of a teacher.
"I never forgot that," Martin admitted. "I wanted to make sure that when I had an opportunity I would give back to the kids.
Martin, equipped with over $2000 worth of toys and accompanied by a unit of school safety officers, visited Pistor Middle School, C.E. Rose K-8 School and Holladay Magnet Elementary School on December 17th to pass out the gifts. Each school had a unique angle of how they would pass out what they received.
"We look at our student leaders here at Pistor, as well as students who have made great gains... either in their grades or their behavior," explained Pistor principal Angela Wichers. Pistor received 25 basketballs for selected students to take home.
C.E. Rose worked with School Safety to identify specific students who were in need of gifts for the holiday season. Together, they selected seven students who were surprised with gift bundles including bikes, sports equipment, clothes and toys.
Holladay selected a group of students who were experiencing behavioral issues and challenged them to a nine-day agreement where if they worked hard to keep a promise of good behavior, they would be rewarded. They too earned gift packages including bikes, sporting equipment and trading cards.
"We've been talking to them a lot about [how] hard work pays off," said Holladay principal Tonya Strozier. "My kids are over the moon, just for being rewarded for hard work and we just appreciate the partnership [with School Safety]."
Martin's efforts were supported in a large way by friends Vikki and Patrick Copley. The couple accompanied the School Safety officers to the schools to meet the children they were helping to brighten this holiday season.
"I called [Sam] again this year and said, ‘Don't forget we're still here. As you're making your plans, count on us,' "said Vikki.
In addition to the three schools visited, Martin's fellow officer David Hansen provided basketballs and toys to four students at both Lynn-Urquides and Lawrence. In total, over 50 children were helped by the efforts of the officers.
"Let's face it - some of these kids have it difficult," Martin explained. "Maybe, out of all these kids, if I can make a difference on even one of them... this would be worth it."