Skip to main content

The City Journals

Westbrook Elementary tree will benefit hospital and students

Nov 05, 2019 04:12PM ● By Jet Burnham

Student council members organize donations and prepare to decorate a tree for the Festival of Trees. (Jessica Sellers/Westbrook Elementary)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” -Dr. Seuss

Westbrook Elementary student council members are asking for donations from the community to decorate a Dr. Seuss-themed tree for the Festival of Trees, an annual fundraiser for Primary Children’s Medical Center. They need red and white Christmas decorations, such as ornaments, ribbon, mesh and picks, as well as Dr. Seuss-themed decorations, school supplies, stuffed animals, gift cards and books.

As project coordinators, intern coach Jessica Sellers and sixth grade teacher Candace Wagaman have been collecting donations since last spring.

“We have a lot of fun stuff—but it's a lot of little stuff,” Sellers said. “Obviously, families do what they can, and we're grateful for everything we get.”

Donations can be dropped off in the front office of Westbrook Elementary, 3451 West 6200 South, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday.

The tree will be decorated on Dec. 2 and can be seen on display at the Mountain America Exposition Center (9575 South State Street) Dec. 3–7.

“Hopefully, the kids will feel the connection to it and then want to bring their families, and we can raise further funds for Primary's,” Sellers said.

The school’s theme is “Westbrook Cares,” a focus which encourages students to care for themselves and others.

“A lot of our students and their families have been to the Primary Children's Hospital for a variety of reasons,” said Sellers. “So picking a children's charity for ‘Westbrook Cares’ just seemed like a natural match.”

Her own daughter, a fourth grader at Westbrook, got stitches at PCMC a few years ago. Quinn still has the cloth doll the plastic surgeon used to demonstrate how he would stitch up her cut. Sellers said she is glad they chose to take Quinn to PCMC because the experience of playing with Play-Doh, getting a doll and an ice cream treat made what could have been a traumatic experience more like a fun activity for her daughter.

Many parents trust PCMC for emergencies such as stitches and broken bones. Other families, such as the Kranendocks, are regular visitors.

“When my kids think of people who have impacted their lives, it’s people at Primary's,” said Ashley Kranendock, whose two daughters, ages 8 and 11, are students at Westbrook. Both have had medical issues their whole lives.

“We have doctors at Primary's galore,” she said. “We're up there quite often—if not every couple of weeks, once a month.”

Kranendock’s daughters like to talk about their experiences at PCMC. Westbrook students have been curious when the 8-year-old comes to school with a cast, leg braces or a walker.

“They always ask and she tells them about going to Primary’s and her doctors there,” Kranendock said.

Kranendock appreciates that the Dr. Seuss-themed tree, made entirely from donations, will be sold at the Festival of Trees auction to raise money for hospital that directly benefits her children. She has been amazed at the generous donations from students, parents and community members so far.

“There was a gal who brought stuff in the office the other day,” she said. “She didn't even have a student going to our school.”

Last year’s student council started promoting the Festival of Trees project last spring and this year’s council, a group of sixth graders, is continuing to organize donations and help decorate the tree.

“Once we figure out what exactly can and cannot go on the tree, we’re going to make some ornaments with our sixth graders,” Sellers said. Meanwhile, they will continue to collect items to decorate the tree and the surrounding area.

Westbrook students have sung at the Festival of Tree in previous years, but Wagaman and Sellers wanted to take on creating a tree to involve the whole school and community.

“It's a big project; we knew it was going to be big,” Sellers said. “But we decided just to go for it this year and it will be awesome.”