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In what has become a holiday tradition in Ferndale, local businesses and nonprofits are collaborating with the Ferndale School District to ensure many local students in need receive the items on their holiday wish lists this year.

Companies as large as BP and as small as Ferndale gym Manthey Momentum have pledged to buy presents for 52 low-income families in the Ferndale School District, according to Kim Bunch, the school district’s homeless and foster student liaison. And separate from those families, 550 local students in need will receive presents through other programs, and 82 total food baskets were given for Thanksgiving by Petrogas and Windermere Real Estate agents from Ferndale and Birch Bay, she said.

These acts of generosity are meaningful after this tough year for the region, Bunch said.

“We’re still in the pandemic -- families have struggled with jobs, they may have lost their jobs or are struggling with rent,” she said. “You add on top of that, the impact of all the flooding that just happened.”

Companies, nonprofits and locals donate school supplies, clothing and food to Ferndale schools year-round – for example, Lynden resident Betty Ross makes handmade quilts for students in need every year. But donations kick up a notch during the holidays.

Although some donations, particularly the year-round ones, can be given to all students, holiday gifts typically are given to students from low-income families, or who are experiencing homelessness, Bunch said. That’s where the school district comes in: Bunch and other Ferndale school staff tell the companies and nonprofits which students qualify due to specific programs, or which families in need have many kids, and therefore a larger donation.

Some families will have presents purchased for them, based on their submitted wishlists. Other families will get to participate in programs like the Community Toy Store, where they can purchase gifts at an 80% discount, Bunch said.

It isn’t just large corporations like BP who are donating holiday gifts to needy students this year, Bunch said. One example of a smaller local business pitching in is Ferndale gym Manthey Momentum, who are sponsoring two families.

Gym members come together to pitch in and buy presents for Ferndale kids in need, said owner Megan Richey. Richey asks the school district for a couple students to “adopt,” then asks those families what the kids’ clothing sizes and Christmas wishes are. Gym members are told what items are on these families’ wish lists, purchase the items and bring them to the gym. Finally, Richey and her husband hand-deliver these presents to the families.

“We like encouraging everyone in our community to take the focus off ourselves, and our wants, and to fulfill the needs of some families that are having a hard time providing beyond the basic needs,” Richey said. “We just have such a generous community here in the gym, and they love being able to pour out that support.”

Bunch said she is proud of Ferndale businesses and individuals who have stepped up to help local families in need.

“It’s a trite phrase, ‘It takes a village,’ but this village has risen up and really responded well to the need that’s out there,” she said. “Our families really appreciate it!”

If you’d like to donate school supplies or clothes to students at any point this school year, contact Kim Bunch at kim.bunch@ferndalesd.org or call (360)383-9432.