Develop Systems and Work with Others
Triaging requests for assistance helps me from feeling overwhelmed by the high number of Christmas assistance referrals that I receive each year. First, I start off by making a spreadsheet with the requests. Whether I have resources for Christmas or if the deadlines have passed and those resources are no longer available, I inform parents that I have added their name to my waiting list. Some years I may have someone contact me mid-December wanting to sponsor a family.
An important thing to consider is the families that do not ask for help. This is why I do not operate on a first come, first serve basis. When it comes to helping families, one thing I and other school counselors in my district experience are the same families requesting help each year. While I give out a list of community agencies for each family that makes a request, I prefer to help different families each year and spread out Christmas assistance resources as much as possible.
Meeting with the other social worker, school psychologist and nurse in your building can help alleviate the overwhelming requests you may get during the holidays for assistance. In our meetings we list our students who have a parent(s) that is deployed, incarcerated, homeless, home fire, etc. and split up the list to make sure that every student’s family was contacted. Our school team works closely with the police and fire departments’ local holiday toy drives to make sure that the same families were not getting resources from every organization.
First, we send out an email to teachers asking if they have any students who may have a financial need. Depending on the number of requests, we reach out to our school social worker with our specific needs for that school year. She has so many contacts in the community and is usually up-to-date on the latest resources available. She has helped us with new shoes, coats, and donated toys in the past. If you have a school social worker, be sure to collaborate with them.