Daviess County Public Schools are trying something different this year with the Christmas gifts their family resource youth service centers are handing out to students in need.

They are calling them the DCPS Family First Experience Baskets, and they will include activities and items that are meant to strengthen the family bond, according to district social worker Christina Dalton.

Dalton said the baskets are important because they will create "opportunities for parent-child engagement.

"The most valuable asset we have is sharing our time with each other," Dalton said. "Also the work that we have been doing with trauma shows us that one way to heal from trauma is to connect with one another."

What better way for parents and kids to connect than making memories together, Dalton said.

Kristy Brackin, DCPS support services coordinator, said when she and other organizers of the experience baskets thought back to their most treasured memories, they realized they involved spending time with family members and friends, and not specific tangible items.

That is why the district asked each school to collect specific items to go into the baskets, which can include movie tickets, games, sporting items, baking supplies, crafts and even gingerbread making kits.

Family resource centers take care of many needs of students throughout the school year, from helping to provide food, water and shelter as well as other supportive services like help with medical bills, when they are able. So when they were thinking about providing gifts for students, they wanted to focus on their wants.

Brackin said parents were given a choice whether they wanted traditional Christmas gifts or if they wanted to opt for the experience baskets. Some schools and centers are still doing giving/angel trees, but the tags will look different.

"We are looking at what we can do to help model for our parents and families how to be more family-focused in raising their kids because we realize that's a need for our students," she said.

Each school will be collecting certain items to go into the baskets, Dalton said.

"We want to provide several experiences in one basket that will make memories and maybe even start new family traditions," she said. "The overall goal is to connect with each other."

If community members are interested in participating in the experience baskets, the district is seeking donated items. Those interested can contact any family resource or youth services center coordinator at any of the DCPS schools. Dalton and Brackin also are available to answer questions, and they may be reached by emailing kristy.brackin@daviess.kyschools.us or christina.dalton@daviess.kyschools.us.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315.

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