A holiday toy campaign called “Time for Toys” launched by Harris County Department of Education employees grew into a community giving campaign for adult education students attending classes through the department. The students are learning English, working on academics to pass their GEDs and gaining workplace skills. They’re also getting life lessons about being model citizens by giving back through the toy drive.

Santa will deliver many of the toys donated to children at the HCDE Compton Head Start in northeast Houston on Dec. 14 at 11:30 a.m., 9720 Spalding St., Houston, Texas, 77016.

Hilda Ramos, program assistant for HCDE Adult Education promoted the toy campaign originally organized by HCDE Human Resources to her teachers and students enrolled in night classes. The notion of giving toys to needy Head Start children grew like wildfire.

Once tallied, the students enrolled in four GED and English as a second language evening classes collected 300 cars, dolls, puzzles, books, stuffed animals and other items for 3-5 year olds.

“Most of our students are working students, trying to improve their lives to get better jobs,” said Ramos. “They want to be better citizens in the community and to be role models for their children.”

HCDE County School Superintendent James Colbert said he is humbled by the generosity of the adult learners, the teachers and staff.

“Many of our students struggle financially, yet they find the resources to give back,” Colbert said.

Student Salvador Cardenas, 45, a student enrolled in Monica Hampton’s ESL class, remembers a time when he was 12 and received a toy truck when his family needed help at Christmas.

“I now have the opportunity to share something with kids in need,” said the father of three. “People helped me when I was a kid, and I was happy because of it.”

A pizza party was organized by Ramos for the top two winning classes. Although the incentive of food helped, ESL teacher Lucinda Guevara says her students participated because the campaign is about feeling good about giving. She recently took her students to the Houston Food Bank to volunteer to reinforce good citizenship.

“It’s the attitude of helping people out there,” Guevara said. “I have been enjoying it, and my students enjoy it too.”

About HCDE Adult Education: With a 30-year track record, HCDE Adult Education provides classes to adult learners with a goal to “learn to earn,” including adult basic literacy and math skills, GED, English as a second language and vocational training. Classes are held in 35 community locations throughout Harris and Liberty counties. Communities include Baytown, Alief, Channelview, Cy-Fair, Deer Park, Galena Park, Goose Creek, Katy, Klein, Pasadena, Sheldon, Spring Branch and Liberty. Corporations also benefit from HCDE services provided to English language learning employees aimed at improving productivity and safety in the workplace. For more information access www.hcde-texas.org/adulteducation or 713-692-6216.

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