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August 19, 2022

‘Spreading holiday cheer’: MacQuiddy students gifted new Vans

WATSONVILLE—A group of students at MacQuiddy Elementary School got a special holiday treat last week. 

Thanks to the efforts of instructor Amy McGee and others, 15 kids—all members of Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s Safe Spots program—were handed an armload of gifts Friday, including a new pair of Vans shoes.

“I was thinking about the year of Covid,” McGee said. “And I wanted to come up with a way of spreading holiday cheer for these students.”

That thought swelled into a nationwide call for help, which was answered with several donations, said principal Shelby Biddy. The funds went to gifts, including blankets, clothing and the Vans shoes.

“[McGee] has done an amazing job,” Biddy said. “She wanted to make their holiday a bit brighter and she sure did.”

McGee said she reached out to a number of stores, including several outlets, in outlying areas and was met with several generous “deals” on the shoes.

In a brief and upbeat ceremony Friday, the kids, at one point were led onto the playground to their chairs placed 6-feet apart. There, they were handed their bag with a bowed up pair of shoes.

Off came their old shoes without being asked and on went their new sparkling sneakers.

“These are so cool,” chimed Marbin Bautista, 10, a fourth grader. “The green and white stripes are the best!”

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.

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