Grigsby Holiday Express continues to meet families’ needs during pandemic | Granite City News

Grigsby social worker Shelby Myatt admits that the 2020 Grigsby Holiday Express will be very different, but the goal remains the same – “meeting the vacation needs”.

Myatt, who is 21 years old with the Granite City School District, didn’t grow up in Granite City, but her five children did. And this is a way for your family to give back to their community.

“It’s really important to give back to a community that has given me so much back,” said Myatt. “It’s nice to do something for the people in this community. We go to great lengths to ensure that all of our children come back from the Christmas break and share how much fun they had.”

Before COVID-19, the entire process took about 10 weeks from start to finish.

Starting in October, Myatt and her district social workers will collect names from families in need and then begin buying gifts.

Guards are invited to the cafeteria to have a warm home cooked meal and to buy gifts in the “shop”. The guards then wrap the gifts and write a thank you letter to a sponsor.

Each family has a shopper to help serve the food, shop, and wrap gifts. Volunteers include teachers, bankers, church volunteers, and community firefighters.

“It’s nice for our volunteers to interact with the guards and realize they have a story, too,” Myatt added. “The church comes together to rally behind our families who need it.”

This year’s event is virtual and volunteers have been delivering gifts to families throughout December.

Last year the Grigsby Holiday Express served 55 students, and this year, Myatt will be serving needs to a much smaller extent due to COVID-19.

Holiday Express referred 20 families to Billie’s Kids Christmas in 2020. Other groups that have helped Grigsby students and their siblings with gifts, particularly as part of Holiday Express, include Candi Parker and sisters, Blue Refuge, Remax, Kraft, Karen Tilishalski , Church Women United and Grigsby teachers and their families.

“We couldn’t put this event together without the help of our local businesses and community members. We are grateful for their support,” said Myatt. “All GCSD9 social workers have been caring for vacation needs in their respective buildings for a very long time. I just developed Holiday Express so that parents and community members can work together for the benefit of the children.”