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Palm Springs Community Leadership

Ten days before the holidays, The Desert Sun profiled a group of five women who were determined to provide shoes, socks and a toy to a class of 94 kindergartners at Van Buren Elementary School in Indio, CA. It’s one of the area’s most impoverished: 98 percent of the students live at the poverty level and some even call the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission home. A Page One story in The Desert Sun at Palm Springs, CA, grabbed the attention of a group of Nike executives who were in town for a conference. They contacted The Desert Sun for more information and made a surprise presentation: All 474 students at the school were given new shoes, socks, a backpack and a toy. Nike also kicked in $5,000 of grocery store gift cards to the school’s neediest families.

Principal Melinda Wallace was overwhelmed by what became known as the “Christmas Miracle at Van Buren Elementary School: “A school like ours, things like this don’t happen to us. No one will understand how this type of kindness, this kind of from-the-heart generosity, makes a difference in our school and in the lives of these kids. I can’t thank The Desert Sun enough for its community leadership and highlighting something good happening in our community.”