The Grisham Middle School elves are at it again. For the ninth year, the school is organizing a gift drive to help one Statesman Season for Caring family.


On Sunday, students came to school to make signs and posters and to organize packets for teachers to send out to their classes. Students who were instrumental in last year’s collection voted on which family to choose this year. They chose Kizzy Jackson and her family.


Jackson, 38, moved to Austin two years ago after flooding in Louisiana made finding a job difficult. Her son Joseph, 10, has attention deficit disorder and anxiety. Son Clarence, 11, has autism and is nonverbal. Her mother, Betty Hyder, 62, lives with the family as well.


Each year the Statesman’s annual charity program chooses 12 featured families nominated by local nonprofit organizations and asks the community to donate to their needs. Monetary donations help the featured families first, but also help hundreds of others served by those nonprofits. The Jacksons were nominated by Communities In Schools.


The middle school’s connection to Season for Caring began in 2010, after art teacher Kristin Goodman read about Nancy Knox, a young mom who was dying from ovarian cancer. It started small with Goodman asking her class to get gifts for that mom instead of giving her Christmas presents.


Last year, the whole school got involved and contributed more than $10,000 worth of presents and gift cards for the Duroy family, who had lost their mom to cervical cancer six months before.


Grisham has taken only one year off from Season for Caring since 2010.


“Giving is part of who we are. It’s our identity,” Principal Paige Hadziselimovic said in 2017 as gifts were being distributed.


For Goodman and fellow teacher Susan Dickson, this is their favorite thing they do all year. “It’s probably the most meaningful part of my teaching,” Goodman said in 2017.


Middle school is such a pivotal time in a person's life, Dickson said in 2015, and teaching students the concept of giving and caring for others is important. “If you can instill this at this age, it will be a lifelong thing,” she said.


Goodman often reminds students that it's “the power of the group” that makes this happen.


Grisham will be able to fulfill most of the Jacksons’ wish list, but there still will be a few things left. The family needs help with rent to be able to afford a larger apartment, as well as a newer car or a mechanic to fix their current car. They also would like a deep freezer.


To find out more about the family’s needs or to donate one of the items on its wish list, contact Communities In Schools, 512-462-1771, ciscentraltexas.org.