Santa makes early visit to Tenderloin school

Lefty O?Douls owner Nick Bovis helped Santa make an early stop at an elementary school in San Francisco?s Tenderloin.
December 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
On Wednesday, ABC7 News aired a story about the journals that students at a San Francisco elementary school. Their writings are gripping and sad. Our report on City Academy in the Tenderloin touched the heart of a restaurant owner so much so, that Friday he made it an early Christmas for the kids.

When Santa arrived with presents for all 120 students, the kids just could not believe that he would visit their school.

"Just wanted to express some love to you and let you know you're cared for," Santa said.

City Academy is a Christian elementary school in the heart of the Tenderloin -- a district that routinely faces drugs and mental illness issues. Many of the children are from immigrant families. Each kid keeps a journal. They usually write about their lives.

"It's very hard at times to listen to these stories and think that this is what kids are going through," Principal Marie-France Ladine said. "They didn't deserve it but they're going through it."

As the New Year approaches, the kids were asked to write about the challenges they faced in their young lives this year.

One wrote, "I was in foster care and away from my mom. My dad is not in my life due to alcohol."

Another, "My mom and dad were on drugs...When I was little, I was homeless. I was poor."

And another, "My father is in prison. He has now missed my 5th grade graduation, a very big part of my life...it is very hurtful."

"[A] common theme is poverty, common theme is drugs and death," Ladine said.

The journal entries got to Lefty O'Doul's owner Nick Bovis, who holds an annual Christmas toy drive.

"I had to make an emergency call to Santa and have him come down early," Bovis said.

Our story Wednesday was one of despair but also of hope. Friday, hope won.

"Just for the kids to know that someone in their community cares about them is really special," Ladine said.

If you'd like to help, the school is accepting donations of schools supplies or gifts for the children. Volunteers are also needed.

San Francisco City Academy
PO Box 16217
San Francisco, CA 94116


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